Bears have a sweet tooth, too. And that's why the Gregory Bald area at Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been temporarily closed to humans. The reason is the cherry crop that has attracted black bears looking for a tasty meal.
Park officials say the temporary closure includes the Gregory Bald Trail and Wolf Ridge Trail from Parson Bald to Gregory Bald.
At least a dozen bears are concentrated on Gregory Bald feeding on ripe cherries. The situation has led to several close encounters between hikers and bears creating an unacceptable safety risk, according to park officials. Wildlife biologists are monitoring the area and expect the bears to disperse when the food source has been depleted.
'We regret the inconvenience to park visitors who were looking forward to a hike to Gregory Bald,' said acting-Superintendent Cindy MacLeod. 'However, we feel this temporary closure is necessary to ensure the bears have an opportunity to feed undisturbed on natural foods and also to protect our visitors from defensive bear behavior.'