Enjoying Bears Safely at Shenandoah
One of the many highlights of visiting a National Park is the opportunity to observe and photograph wildlife. Shenandoah is certainly no exception: visitors find white-tailed deer, a wide variety of birds, and butterflies, and, with some frequency, black bears. In most cases these wildlife encounters are events that visitors enjoy and that have no impacts on park wildlife. On the other hand, there are some instances when the encounters pose risks to both the visitor and the animal. This web page provides information that will greatly improve your chances to enjoy seeing a black bear in the wild.
Almost every year, park staff members are involved in taking steps to separate people from wildlife (hazing animals or relocating animals). Every once in a while, staff is forced to destroy an animal because risks have become too great. This usually involves animals that have received food from people and are habituated to being in very close proximity to us. You can help us avoid these situations.
For general information on how visitors should behave when viewing or photographing wildlife, please see the Viewing and Photographing Wildlife web page.
For information specific to interactions with bears, read on …
Keeping Bears and People Separated
When visiting the park you may spot a bear any where (while hiking, camping, on a nature walk, or simply walking between your car and a lodge or restaurant).
If you spot a bear:
Bears may be attracted to your food or garbage when you are picnicking or camping.
To reduce the opportunity for bears to obtain food or garbage:
Avoiding Bears While Hiking
Avoiding Bears While Camping in Developed Areas and the Backcountry
Encountering a Black Bear
If an encounter occurs …
If a bear charges…
If a bear actually makes contact…
Emergency Line: 800-732-0911
Did You Know?
From 1933 to 1942 an estimated 10,000 boys and young men of the Civilian Conservation Corps planted hundreds of thousands of trees, shrubs, and native plants in Shenandoah National Park. Many of these were grown in three CCC plant nurseries from seeds collected within the park. More...