Funds will go toward materials to repair food storage cables at shelters and campsites along Smokies’ 71 miles of the Appalachian Trail, and will also support seasonal staff and two wildlife interns who assist with food-storage cable repairs, as well as other bear management and monitoring.
The grant is funded by ATC’s specialty license plate sales in North Carolina, and Friends of the Smokies has been a regular recipient of funds from the program. Thanks in part to this ATC funding, every backcountry campsite in GSMNP has food storage cables, creating a safer environment for bears and hikers alike.
Park biologists estimate there are more than 1,500 black bears in the park, equal to a population density of two bears per square mile. Since 2006, more than 60 percent of shelters along the Smokies portion of the A.T. have experienced some form of human-bear conflict annually.