Archived Outdoors

Bear activity prompts warning in Panthertown

An increase in serious bear encounters in Panthertown Valley has led the U.S. Forest Service to recommend that backcountry campers there use bear-resistant containers and carry bear spray. 

Bears are smart animals and quickly learn to associate campsites with food when people don’t properly store their food and trash. 

“We recommend no overnight camping without bear-proof containers and some form of personal protection in the backcountry,” said Nantahala District Ranger Mike Wilkins. “This will help reduce bear encounters until berries and other natural foods become available. Also, it is advisable to avoid abandoning food containers, backpacks and other items to a bear one may encounter to avoid teaching the bear to associate people with food.”

Panthertown Valley is a popular backcountry recreation area in the Nantahala National Forest near Cashiers. For more information about bears in the area, visit

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