Archived Outdoors

Bear activity prompts continued camping restrictions

Bear encounters tend to happen more often in the late spring and early summer, before more nutritious food sources like nuts and berries are widely available. Donated photo Bear encounters tend to happen more often in the late spring and early summer, before more nutritious food sources like nuts and berries are widely available. Donated photo

A temporary ban on tents and soft-sided campers at Mount Pisgah Campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway has been extended through Thursday, July 1, due to ongoing bear activity. 

Meanwhile, bear activity on U.S. Forest Service lands is prompting a continued camping closure on the Appalachian Trail between Grassy Fork Road and Max Patch Road and an advisory to hikers camping in other areas to use bear canisters to store their food. Bears have been taking bear bags from trees and rifling through camping supplies and gear. Bear activity has also been reported in other parts of Western North Carolina’s national forests, including the area near Old N.C. 105 in the Grandfather District of the Pisgah National Forest and the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness in the Nantahala National Forest. 

Originally enacted June 18 to extend through June 24, the Parkway’s tent ban is a response to increasing bear activity in the area. A young bear has established a pattern of entering occupied campsites, coming too close to campers and taking food from sites. The ban extension aims to maintain camper safety while wildlife biologists and park staff continue working to redirect bears to natural food sources away from the campground.

Other Blue Ridge Parkway campgrounds will honor Mount Pisgah reservations for dates before July 1, and visitor can also wait until after July 1 to use their reservation at Mount Pisgah. Camping in cars is permitted, and some tent sites may accommodate hard-sided campers. Walk-up camping will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to ensure equipment meets current requirements. 

When bears become habituated to human food and presence, they lose their fear of people and may begin approaching them in search of food, with behavior becoming more unpredictable and dangerous. Studies have shown that habituated bears do not live as long as bears that eat natural foods and remain afraid of people. 

Find more bear safety tips at www.bearwise.org

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