Canoe Life: If You Love Bears, Please Don’t Feed Them


Big Canoe boasts a thriving black bear population. These lovable furry creatures roam our mountains and ravines, thrilling residents and visitors alike as they lumber throughout the community. There is nothing like seeing a bear in its natural habitat for your first time! But don’t be fooled by their cute faces and adorably chubby bodies! An adult black bear can weigh up to 240 pounds and reach speeds of 25-30 miles per hour. They’re fast climbers and can lift up to 325 pounds. They have excellent eyesight and sense of smell; the aroma of garbage or pet food left outside will attract them from far distances.

Black bears may be our most awe-inspiring residents, but can become dangerous if their cubs are disturbed or they are acclimated to human contact. If they know that they can get an easy meal from your open garage or your dog’s outdoor food dish, they will naturally make it a habit. After all, why go through the trouble of foraging the forest, when they know they can just mosey up to your front door for dinner?! This bad habit can quickly turn disastrous, and can sadly lead to bears being euthanized. Though no one has ever been physically harmed by a bear in Big Canoe, here’s how we can protect our beautiful black bear population.

  • A fed bear is a dead bear, so feeding the bears is a huge no-no.
  • Garbage and pet food bowls should never be left outside. Keep your trash secured indoors and try to take it down to Big Canoe’s trash center by the north gate as often as possible. Even the trunk of your car will attract bears if there is trash inside.
  • Do not use bird seed feeders or hummingbird feeders; blooming plants attract hummingbirds safely.
  • Don’t leave windows open or outside entry doors unlocked while bears are very active. That goes for second-story doors, too! Bears are incredible climbers, and can easily scramble up the posts of your second-story deck.
  • On trails and outside, carry a loud whistle or bear bell to make your presence known and scare bears away.
  • Never get between a mother bear and her cubs. She will defend them fiercely if threatened.
  • Never try to run from a bear! Back away slowly until you are safe.
  • If you see a bear, don’t approach it. Instead, enjoy watching it from a safe distance and don’t forget to take plenty of pictures! The indigenous wildlife in the north Georgia Mountains are one of the best parts of Canoe Life®, and if we want to continue to revel in black bears sightings, we must remember that they were here long before we were.
    *Photo by Big Canoe resident, Marcia Captan