A family of bears trying to enjoy the warm weather we've been experiencing had to dodge the paparazzi earlier this week.


Local photographer Jackie Gilbert says she was out at Cades Cove twice this week taking photos when she saw a group of people crowding the bears.

"The first set of pictures I was up on the hill using a 500mm zoom trying to get good pictures but they kept getting in everyone's way. Eventually they ran the bears back in the woods," she wrote in a Facebook post. "The 2nd set of pictures was the very next day! Rangers never showed up either time. Notice in the 1st picture the young girl is taking a selfie!!"

Jackie Gilbert Photography
Jackie Gilbert Photography

Yep - a selfie... a very close selfie.. to the bears. It's a move that park rangers say is not only dangerous to you but to the bears as well.

"People may very unwisely give them food scraps, and that creates an animal that is becoming habituated to people. And, as unpredictable wildlife, that can be a threat to you and to the next person," Great Smoky Mountains National Park Spokesperson Dana Soehn said.

She says bears are emerging this time of year and food is scarce.

Park regulations also require you to stay 50 yards away from bears at all times, according to Soehn.

To put that in perspective -- 50 yards is 150 feet. The distance from home plate to first base is 90 feet. So - you need to be almost double that distance away from the bears to avoid a citation from the park and to stay safe.

Long story short: give them their space.