Bear activity reported in Panthertown

Recent bear encounters in Panthertown have spurred the U.S. Forest Service to issue a warning for visitors to the area. 

Though no injuries have been reported, bears have stolen food multiple times with people present, and even shredded a tent that had no food inside it. Reports indicate that bears have been staying at the site of incidents for one to two hours, and in one case a bear was undeterred by bear spray. Most of these incidents have occurred at Panthertown Shelter. 

“One or more bears has become used to people due to the close proximity of residential neighborhoods and the regular use of the same camping spots over and over,” said Nantahala District Ranger Mike Wilkins. “It is early in the year and once there is more natural food available across the forest the bears should be less aggressive.” 

If a bear approaches, move away slowly to a vehicle or secure building, but don’t run — and pack up food and trash immediately after seeing a bear nearby. If necessary, scare the animal away by making as much noise as possible, and fight back if attacked, using any object available. Avoid bear encounters by properly storing food and scented items in a bearproof container — never in a tent — and by cleaning up any food residue from the campsite. 

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