The U.S. Forest Service is discouraging people from backcountry camping of bringing food into the Panthertown Valley area outside Cashiers in the Nantahala National Forest, following several bear encounters.
Recently, backpackers in Panthertown experienced three separate bear encounters. A bear damaged tents and stole food even though some of the food was properly hung in trees, according to the backpackers reports to rangers. No injuries were reported. The incidents occurred in the vicinity of the Mac’s Gap, Green Valley and the Little Green Mountain area.
The alert comes on the tails of a backcountry camping closure in the Pisgah National Forest in Haywood County. Last week forest officials closed overnight camping in the Shining Rock Wilderness, Graveyard Fields and Black Balsam areas because of bear encounters. The bears entered campsites and went after food, and campers had a hard time scaring them away.
Campers are encouraged to not store food in tents and instead hang food high in a tree far from the trunk or put it in a secure bear canister away from the campsite. Also, campers should clean up food scraps and handle food away from the campsite.