Bear canisters recommended in the Nantahala

An increase in bear encounters in Panthertown and along the Appalachian Trail through the Nantahala National Forest has resulted in a strong recommendation that backcountry campers use bear-proof containers for all food and scented items.

The recommendation applies to all national forest lands in and adjacent to bear sanctuaries, including 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.

Food and scented items such as toothpaste should be stored in canisters manufactured for the specific purpose of resisting bear entry, with canisters stored well away from camping and cooking areas.

This year, bear encounters have been common in several parts of the Pisgah-Nantahala — most encounters have occurred in places where people have not properly stored their food and trash, causing bears to become dependent on human food.

For tips on safety in bear country, visit

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