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GSMNP warns about traffic as visitors stop to watch elk, bears

There's a lot going on in the Smokies right now, and it's causing traffic backups. The park is reminding visitors to view wildlife safely.

If you're heading to the Smokies soon to check out the fall foliage or enjoy the cooler weather, you might get stuck in some traffic.

There is a lot of wildlife activity going on in the park with elk mating season and black bears eating to prepare for the winter, and visitors are stopping to watch, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park said in a Facebook post. 

Stuck in a jam? We understand! With the rut, elk mating season, in ... NC and black bears eating to have energy through the cold months, there is quite a lot going on in the Smokies. You may experience some traffic due to wildlife viewing.

The park posted a reminder to visitors to keep yourself, other parkgoers and the animals safe when viewing wildlife.

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If you want to stop and watch, here is what the park said you should do.

  • Be aware of your surroundings. The park said all animals there are wild, and they could see you or your pet as a threat.
  • Pull off the main road to let other visitors pass. 
  • Stay in or near your car.
  • Give elk and bears 50 yards, or half a football field, of space. The park said this is the law, and if an animal stops feeding or changes their behavior, you are too close.
  • Do not feed any animals. The park said it causes major harm and can lead to illness or death of the animal.

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