Great Smoky Mountains park hosting bear research conference - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Great Smoky Mountains park hosting bear research conference

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KNOXVILLE, TN (WRCB) -

 Researchers from around the world are meeting in Tennessee for a conference about how humans and bears can safely coexist.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports Great Smoky Mountains National Park is hosting the Fifth International Human-Bear Workshop through Thursday. An estimated 1,600 black bears live in the Smoky Mountains and their greatest threat is encountering humans.

Researcher Jessica Giacomini, a University of Tennessee graduate student, says the Smokies bear population has been growing since the '90s, and the park has roughly 11 million visitors every year.

She says bears that become conditioned not to fear humans are more likely to be struck by cars or killed by hunters than if they remained in the park eating natural food. The more food bears find, the farther they're likely to roam into urban areas.

Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com

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