U.S. Forest Service issues warnings following bear encounters in - FOX Carolina 21

U.S. Forest Service issues warnings following bear encounters in Western N.C.

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American Black Bear (Source: Wikipedia) American Black Bear (Source: Wikipedia)

Officials with the U.S. Forest Service in North Carolina are warning visitors about another type of guest in the area.

Rangers say visitors to Panthertown on the Nantahala Ranger District should be on the look-out for black bears after some recent sightings in the area. No injuries have been reported at this time, but officials said the bears have stolen food with people present and even shredded a tent in the area.

U.S. Forest Service officials released the following statement on Facebook as a warning to visitors, including a list of tips to keep them safe:

Reports have indicated that the bears often stay for one to two hours at the location of the incident and in one case a bear was undeterred by bear spray. Most incidents have occurred at the Panthertown Shelter.

This time of the year black bears are opportunistically looking for food that campers and trail users bring on their trips.

To avoid bear attacks, experts recommend the following:
- 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.

For more tips, visit our website and click on "Learn about Bear Safety."

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