ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Visitors to national forests in western North Carolina are being warned that bears are getting close to humans and even circling campsites.
The U.S. Forest Service issued the warning for Pisgah and Nantahala national forests. The service says visitors have reported bears tearing down bear bags from trees, carrying off backpacks, spending hours near campsites and ignoring efforts to scare them away, The Charlotte Observer reported.
The rise in bear encounters coincided with the Memorial Day weekend and focused on the Pisgah, Appalachian, and Nantahala Ranger Districts, the service said. No injuries were reported.
Last June, reports of aggressive bears led to a temporary ban on camping along a portion of the Appalachian Trail.
North Carolina’s most recent bear attack that led to a death was in 2020 when an Illinois man was killed while camping in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Last September, a couple was injured by a bear as they were enjoying a picnic along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.