View Full Version : Truth about Bear Fences....

05-05-2004, 14:22
Would someone who has been-there-done-that fill me in on the removal of some of the chain link fencing in front of some of the shelters in bear country ( I believe I read that these were in the Smokies).

I'd also like to hear some opinons pro/con about these fences. Are they really necessary? I think I may opt for my tent in these areas (stealth.);)

Thanks all....

jersey joe
05-05-2004, 15:34
These chain link fences you are referring to are indeed in the Smokies. In 02' most of the shelters still had the fencing up across the front opening. They had already started taking them down at a couple shelters at that point.

They are intended to keep the large bear population away from the heavy human population but I feel they should not be there. According to a ranger I spoke with in the Smokies there were cases of people feeding the bears through the chain link and one case of a bear getting through the chain link during the night and not being able to get out. I also noticed people were a lot sloppier with their food in the shelter knowing they were protected by the fences.

05-05-2004, 18:17
There are fences at some of the Smokys shelters. From memory, the shelters with fences are: Russell Field, Spence Field, Derrick Knob, Silar Bald, Double Springs, Mount Collins, Cosby Knob, Davenport Gap, and Laurel Gap (not on the AT). Shelters without a fence are Mollies Ridge, Mount LeConte (not on the AT), Icewater, Pecks Corner, and Tricorner. There is a move to take down the fences as soon as the shelters are renovated. Roughly one shelter per year is renovated, usually in the summer. Silars is renovated, but still has a fence. Most of the fenced shelters are in the west end of the park. Most (problem) bears are in the west end of the park.

Depending on your perspective, the shelters are either good or bad. For me, I'd rather see them go. The problem is that the three most western shelters - Mollies, Russell, and Spence - are directly uphill from Cades Cove, the main tourist area in the park. If you think Newfound is a zoo, head over to Cades on a Saturday afternoon. The bears in the area can make an easy sweep uphill to try to get a little more food. Of course, if people take care of their food, the bears might not come back with such frequency as they do now. There are bear cables at all the shelters except for Davenport, so just hang your food. Note that it is not possible to stealth camp near the shelters: You will be seen, although probably not by a ranger. Many tents get put up around the shelters anyways, but these hardly qualify as a stealth site.

steve hiker
05-05-2004, 20:07
The fence has been removed from Cosby Knob. I've heard Tricorner is currently being renovated, but don't know if the fence will remain.

Most of the fences are in the southern end of the park where the bar population is higher. The park service has left the fences there so hikers returning from the bars don't stumble over cliffs. ;)

05-06-2004, 01:48
I live at the edge of the park. I spend a good deal of time hiking in the park. I usually stay off the AT...which is good for many overcrowded reasons. The bad news is the amount of "tourists" who have no knowledge about bears and the aftermath that results from feeding them or leaving left-over food strewn about campsites....Yes, I am talking about the ones that think that toilet paper magically goes away after it rains...and that plastic tampon applicators will turn into soil. It has been a problem in the past....it's still a problem and it will cause future problems. After one or two days in the park these people simply leave. Anything left behind by them probably never enters their minds.
I have found diapers (plural) thrown into bushes...I still wonder who, how and why anyone would venture that deep into the park with a baby.
Fact of the matter is that there are some really unedimuckated folks that use the park.... I am all for the fencing coming down. I really hope that there are no "negative" results from fenceless shelters...."negative" almost always results in dead bears. The bears live there...we're visitors. Bears will adapt and mold their ways based on experience. If bears find shelters and campsites to be easy sources of food they will get on their cell phones and pass the good word on to all their buddies...."Hey Bruno....this is Bruin....hey man, word up brother......Buffet at Spence tonight" When you hike in bear country....remember you are in bear country.
I love going to Alaska....Denali is Heaven on earth....be glad the Smokies have black bears......and always keep in mind that you might feel at home in the woods....but the woods are home to the bear.