Are There Bears In Tennessee? Everything You Need To Know

Last Updated on April 15, 2024 by Amin Tawar

Are There Bears In Tennessee?

Tennessee is home to many stunning and incredible wildlife. From the magnificent bald eagles flying aloft to the mischievous river otters that frequently come out to greet, there’s something unique about being able to watch wild animals in their habitat. 

And one such animal that can be spotted in Tennessee is the American black bear. Yes! Black bears live in Tennessee, and some local ones have grown into truly exceptional sizes. 

Below I’ve explained everything you need to know about the black bears in Tennessee.

Are There Bears In Tennessee?

American black bears (Ursus americanus) are the only species of bear that is found in Tennessee. Most black bears are black that have a tan muzzle. Some bears might also include white flares on their chests. 

Exceptional phases in different parts of North America include brown, cinnamon, bluish-grey, and white. As a few black bears are also brown and might be possible to misunderstand them for grizzly bears. However, grizzly bears contain a bump on their shoulders, and black bears do not have one.

Tennessee black bears can grow up to almost three feet in height at the shoulder levels and up to six feet in length from tail to nose. Adults typically weigh anywhere from 125 to 600 pounds with female bears being a bit shorter than male bears. They are the heaviest in late summer or fall as they eat up for winter.

There are around 5,500 to 6,000 black bears currently living in Tennessee. With serious conservation efforts being taken by the state to save them, there has been a continuous increase in the population of Tennessee black bears.

How Common Are Bears In Tennessee?

As the black bear population continues to increase, there have been more human-bear interactions making them very common to spot in the state. However, aren’t seen throughout the state.

Black bears specifically prefer forested regions with dense covering, usually in mountainous parts. In the north, there are two different populations. One is the Appalachian Population, which runs along the Tennessee-North Carolina boundary, and the other is the Cumberland Population, which runs along the Tennessee-Kentucky border of the upper Cumberland Plateau.

On the eastern border, they live in counties that include Blount, Cocke, Carter, Greene, Johnson, Jefferson, Polk, Monroe, Sevier, Unicoi, Sullivan, and Washington. The population is usually high in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cherokee National Forest, where black bears are a significant attraction. 

Where Do You See Bears In Tennessee?

Are There Bears In Tennessee?

Black Bears can be seen in many places in Tennessee, especially in the eastern parts of Tennessee where the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is situated. 

The park houses an estimation of more than 1,500 black bears, which are typically caught by visitors during specific periods of the year. 

Additionally to the park, back bears can also be seen in different forested regions of the state, including the Big South Fork National River and the Cherokee National Forest. 

Also Check Our Guide On Bears In US

What Is The Bear Population In Tennessee?

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), has reported that the back bear inhabitants in Tennessee are calculated to be about 6,000 individuals. The majority of them are primarily located in the eastern region of the state in locations with notable forest coverings.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, on the Tennessee-North Carolina border, houses up to 1,500 black bears, with the densest inhabitants of black bears in the eastern region of the nation. 

The Tennessee government has been closely monitoring and working on a variety of approaches, to increase the bear population and reduce the human-bear conflicts.

Are Grizzly Bears In Tennessee?

No, there are no grizzly bears in Tennessee. They were historically also not found in the state of Tennessee. Grizzly bears were usually found only on the western side of the nation, mostly in Alaska, and parts of Canada.

Also Check Out Our Guide On Bears In Ohio

Can You Hunt Bear In Tennessee?

Bear hunting is permitted in Tennessee, however, it is possible only during specific periods of the year and with the appropriate licenses and permits. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) has restrained bear hunting and has set clear bag limits, hunting seasons, and various regulations.

The hunting season typically operates from September to December, where hunters are required to have bear hunting and a Tennessee hunting permit to take part in the hunting. There are also detailed rules for the use of hunting methods, weapons, and reporting conditions. The limitation per hunter is only one black bear of either sex yearly. No females with cubs or cubs can be hunted. 

Do Bear Hibernate In Tennessee?

Yes! Bears do hibernate in Tennessee. Black bears hibernate from October till April or even May relying on the weather. They generally arise from their dens only when temperatures begin rising in the spring. During hibernation, they retreat into dens to rest and preserve energy until warm temperatures return.

Additionally, black bears have special skills to survive in cold winter like storing food. Also, they will eat more daily in summer and fall to get enough fat reserves built up before the colder months. This helps them to remain well-fed when hibernating so that in spring, they are raring to go!


And that was everything you need to know about the Bears In Tennessee. I hope this article answered all your questions.

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