National Park tourist learns why you never harass a mother bear and her cubs

Three black bear cubs in tree
(Image credit: Getty)

A man visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park got a shock when he tried to follow three black bear cubs in a parking lot and received a quick rebuke from their mother. The incident was recorded by another park visitor, who posted the resulting footage online.

The video, which you can watch below, was shared this week on Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone, which highlights examples of bad behavior at US National Parks and other sites of natural beauty – often involving wildlife. Some other recent incidents have included a tourist having his car tire punctured after teasing an elk, and another attempting to pet and ride a bison.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the best places in the US to spot a bear, and seeing one from a safe distance is one of the highlights of a visit, but it's important to take care. The National Park Service (NPS) warns that black bears are wild animals, and can be unpredictable and dangerous if they feel they, their young, or their food source is being threatened.

Attacks on people are rare, but there are steps you should take to keep yourself and the bears safe (animals that make contact with people are often euthanized as they present a danger to the public). Deliberately approaching within 50 yards of a bear, or doing anything that disturbs or causes them to move is illegal at the park, and visitors who do so can be arrested and fined.

If you see one from a safe distance, and it is carrying on its normal behavior, you can stay and watch (binoculars or a telephoto lens will help). However, you should not approach a bear, or allow it to approach you. If the animal changes its behavior as a result of your presence, you are too close and should carefully back up while keeping an eye on it. Don't run, because this can cause the bear to see you as prey.

For more advice on how to handle encounters with different types of bear, see our guide what to do if you meet a bear.

Cat Ellis

Cat is Homes Editor at TechRadar and former editor of Advnture. She's been a journalist for 15 years, and cut her teeth on magazines before moving online. She helps readers choose the right tech for their home, get the best deals, and do more with their new devices.