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Black Bear warning issued in Bent Creek, Black Balsam

Photo credit: Pixabay/MGN

Increased reports of bear activity in Bent Creek and Black Balsam have prompted the U.S. Forest Service to warn visitors to take precautions.

The U.S. Forest Service says, during this time of the year, black bears are opportunistically looking for food that campers and trail users bring on their trips.

Officials said while black bear attacks on people are rare, such attacks have resulted in human fatalities.

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. Get into a vehicle or a secure building.
  • 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.

Visitors are encouraged to prevent bear interactions by practicing these additional safety tips:

  • 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 leave food unattended.
  • Never run away from a bear-back away slowly and make lots of noise.

The large number of bear sightings and encounters in the past few years has led to required use of bear-proof canisters in the Shining Rock and Graveyard Fields areas. Backcountry users must use commercially-made canisters constructed of solid, non-pliable material manufactured for the specific purpose of resisting entry by bears.

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