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Wednesday, 17 August 2011 14:19

Bears force shutdowns in popular areas

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Increased bear activity in the Appalachian Ranger District of the Pisgah National Forest has led to closings in Yancey County and at Mount Mitchell State Park’s family campground.

The latest Yancey County closures are the Briar Bottom Campground, Black Mountain Campground, Forest Service Road 472 and Neals Creek Road until Aug. 29.

A number of bear-and-human encounters have been reported lately in the High Country. Earlier this month, four trails also in the Appalachian Ranger District were closed until Aug. 29. These were the Buncombe Horse Trail, from Forest Service Road 472 to the intersection the Big Tom Gap Trail; Mount Mitchell Trail, from Black Mountain Campground to Mount Mitchell State Park; Mountain to Sea Trail, from N.C. 128 to Black Mountain Campground’s Higgins Bald Trail.

Visitors are encouraged to practice the following safety measures to reduce bear encounters:

• Make noise to avoid surprising a bear.

• Never approach a bear or other wild animal.

• Do not hike in the dark.

• Carry EPA-registered bear pepper spray.

• Keep a clean campsite by properly disposing of food scraps and garbage. Do not leave food or garbage inside fire rings, grills or around your site.

• Never leave food or coolers unattended, even in developed picnic areas.

• If bear-proof containers are not available, store food and garbage inside a hard-top vehicle or trailer.

• Never store food inside a tent.

• Wipe tabletops clean before vacating a camp or picnic site.

• If a bear is observed nearby, pack up your food and trash immediately and vacate the area as soon as possible.

For more tips on bear safety, visit: www.fs.fed.us/r8/outdoorsafety/wildlife.php.

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