FRANKLIN, N.C., August 23, 2017 - Due to an increase in close and serious bear encounters in Panthertown and along the Appalachian Trail, the Nantahala Ranger District is strongly recommending that backcountry campers use bear-proof containers for all food and scented items.
This applies to National Forest lands in and adjacent to bear sanctuaries, which includes Standing Indian Basin, Wayah Bald to Tellico Gap, and Panthertown.
"At this time of year before trees have produced a mast crop and as berries dry up, bears quickly learn that a good food source is campsites where people have not properly stored their food or trash. So we are recommending no overnight camping without bear-proof containers in the backcountry," said District Ranger Mike Wilkins. "This will help reduce bear encounters until acorns and other nuts appear in the fall."
Backcountry campers should store all food and scented items like toothpaste in commercially-made canisters manufactured for the specific purpose of resisting entry by bears. Keep stored food well away from camping and cooking areas. Before sleeping, make sure you have not inadvertently left anything edible or sweet smelling like personal hygiene items near your campsite.
Bear encounters have been a common occurrence this year in several parts of the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. In most cases encounters have been in areas where people have not properly stored food or trash and bears have become dependent on human foods.
Visitors are encouraged to prevent bear interactions by practicing these additional safety tips:
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