Parkway section closed after visitors feed young bear
Eight miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Craggy Gardens is closed after multiple visitors were reported feeding and attempting to hold a young bear in recent weeks at Lane Pinnacle Overlook.
“We are closing this section of the road temporarily for the safety of both the bear and park visitors,” said Superintendent Tracy Swartout. “When people intentionally attract bears with trash and food it can lead to very dangerous situations. In this instance we want to give the bear a chance to lose interest in the area before the situation escalates and visitors or the bear are harmed.”
The closed section extends from milepost 367.6 near the Craggy Gardens Picnic Area to milepost 375.6 at Ox Creek Road. The closure went into effect today and will remain in place until further notice. Park visitors can access the Craggy Gardens recreational area via N.C. 80 from the north. However, until the road reopens, the visitor center at milepost 364.5 will remain closed.
Fall is a critical time of year for bears. Between September and November they may forage for food up to 20 hours a day as they attempt to put on weight for the winter and hibernation. During this time bears actively seek out natural foods but will also take advantage of human foods when presented with the opportunity. Bears that lose their fear of humans and associate them with food rewards may become aggressive, creating a dangerous situation for bears and humans alike.
To prevent conflicts and protect bears, follow bear safety tips at bearwiseorg. Report Blue Ridge Parkway bear encounters by calling 828.298.2491 or stopping by the nearest visitor center.