The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is well known for the large Ursus Americanus (black bear) population. Being one of many things that draws over nine million plus visitors annually. (This according to the book of knowledge ummm Wikipedia that is...) Of these visitors most if not all would love the rare chance to see a bear in the wild. As of lately there have been more and more sightings of bears closer and closer to urban areas as the population grows. Another contributing factor in the bears coming in closer contact with humans is the idiots that feed/bait the bears. Possibly to get them closer or for whatever reasons, none the less they are doing far more harm than good. I do enjoy if not love this area (all along the Appalachian mountain chain). The more time spent there the more I learn and even have more of an appreciation for. I try to visit the park as often as I can, with the Townsend/Cade's Cove area being one of my favorite locations. Throughout the years most of my visits (the majority being in the fall/winter) I had only saw the rare bear on occasion, actually up until 2011 the total number I had seen was less than five. That changed once I learned more about the bears and their activities. Now every year I am going to try my best to make the trek for a minimum of a few days (if not a week) to capture the bears during their most active times. The gallery I have posted is the collection of the best shots from this year. Some I love ( I could watch the cubs play all day..!) others are just so so. Either way here they are to share with you all. Enjoy, and PLEASE BE AWARE that you should stay at LEAST thirty yards or more from all bears. (That is probably a great rule for all wildlife...) I have used a few super telephoto lenses to achieve these shots. Never getting too close, so much as even at proper/safe distances if I notice the animal changing its behavior then I move away even farther. This is done more to protect the bear than myself.