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Forest Service issues warning about black bears along the Appalachian Trail in the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests

Asheville, NC, June 10, 2021—Hikers along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail on the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests are asked to take precautions to avoid bears after recent reports of increased encounters. Camping is temporarily prohibited along the trail in the Pisgah National Forest because of a bear with cubs continuously coming too close to campers with food. The trail remains open to hiking, but camping is not allowed from Grassy Fork Road, mile marker 245, to Max Patch Road, mile marker 253, including the Groundhog Creek Shelter.

No injuries have been reported. Encounters include bears taking down bear bags stored hanging from a tree and riffling through camping supplies and gear. The bears will often stay in the area of the incident for multiple hours and they have a large range that can extend several miles. This time of the year black bears are opportunistically looking for food that campers and trail users bring on their trips.

Multiple bear encounters have been reported in the following areas:

  • Between Carter Gap Shelter, Mile Marker 92.5, and Betty Creek Gap, Mile Marker 96, Nantahala National Forest in the Southern Nantahala Wilderness
  • Between Wildcat Top, Mile Marker 246 and Groundhog Creek Shelter, Mile Marker 248, Pisgah National Forest on Snowbird Mountain.

To view a map of the Appalachian trail with mile markers and shelter locations please visit the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website at https://appalachiantrail.org/explore/hike-the-a- t/interactive-map/.

The U.S. Forest Service strongly encourages hikers to use bear canisters that are commercially made and constructed of solid, non-pliable material to properly store food and other scented items such as toothpaste and deodorant. When storing food be sure to store it 100 yards or more away from campsites.

Visitors are encouraged to prevent bear interactions by being BearWise and practicing these safety tips:

Black bears are seldom aggressive, and attacks are rare. To avoid bear attacks, experts recommend the following:
• Keep your dog on a leash in areas where bears are reported.
• If you notice a bear nearby, pack up your food and trash immediately and vacate the area as
soon as possible.
• If a bear approaches, move away slowly; do not run. Back away slowly in the opposite direction
and wait for the bear to leave
• If necessary, attempt to scare the animal away with loud shouts, by banging pans together, or
throwing rocks and sticks at it. If you are attacked by a black bear, try to fight back using any object available. Act aggressively and intimidate the bear by yelling and waving your arms. Playing dead is not appropriate. While black bear attacks on people are rare, such attacks have resulted in human fatalities.
For more tips, visit
https://bearwise.org/six-outdoor-bearwise-basics/ or go
to www.fs.usda.gov/nfsnc and click on “Learn about Bear Safety.”

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• Do not store food in tents.
• Properly store food and scented items like toothpaste by using a bear-proof container. • Clean up food or garbage around fire rings, grills, or other areas of your campsite.
• Do not burn food scraps or trash in your fire ring or grill

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