National Forests in NC Propose Required Bear Canisters for Overnight Campers on Appalachian Trail and in Panthertown
Visitors to the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests have experienced an increasing number of encounters with black bears exhibiting bold behavior over food in the past few years.
Most encounters are at places where the public repeatedly camps in the general forest rather than at campgrounds that are equipped with bear-proof trash cans. Incidents include bears taking food and back packs, damaging tents, and staying near inhabited campsites for hours.
“Bears are very reluctant to give up an easy food source and they have not been discouraged by humans banging pots, blowing air horns, and yelling,” said Nantahala District Wildlife Biologist Johnny Wills. “Using bear-resistant food containers is the surest way to deny bears access to human food.”
The Forest Service has increased public awareness efforts by posting material at trail heads, on websites, and on social media in an effort to educate visitors on the importance of eliminating human behaviors that lead bears to see people as a source of food. However, potentially serious encounters by bears have continued to increase. Close interactions with bears must be reduced for the sake of the bears and for the safety of visitors.
The US Forest Service is seeking input on a proposal to require bear resistant food containers for all overnight campers on the Appalachian Trail located on the National Forests in North Carolina and in Panthertown on the Nantahala Ranger District. The Appalachian Trail passes through the Appalachian, Nantahala, Cheoah, and Tusquitee Ranger Districts.