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Bear activity closes campsites along Appalachian Trail

Some campsites on the Appalachian Trail in Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forrest are closed due to frequent bear activity near sites.
Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 5:46 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Due to multiple reports of aggressive bear activity and evidence of bears entering campsites and taking food, some campsites on the Appalachian Trail will be closed to the public.

According to officials, the Appalachian Trail between Double Springs Shelter and the intersection with Backbone Rock Side Trail will be closed to camping until further notice.

McQueen’s Knob (emergency) Shelter and Abingdon Gap Shelter are also both closed until further notice. Hiking on the trail will still be open.

U.S. Forest Service officials are also warning visitors to be on the lookout for black bears and to remember to not approach or feed a bear.

Officials also say that while bears are naturally afraid of humans, they can become a threat to humans, property and themselves.

The following procedures can help reduce the chances of a close encounter with a bear while on a camping trip:

  • Never leave food or trash unattended.
  • Never cook or store food in or near your tent.
  • Hang food and anything with strong odors (toothpaste, bug repellent, soap, etc.) at least 12 feet off the ground and 6 feet from a tree or limb, or use special food storage canisters and cable systems if available.
  • Keep a clean site by properly disposing of garbage including fruit rinds and cores, empty cans or jars and aluminum foil used for grilling or cooking.
  • Never feed a bear or other animals.
  • Never approach a bear.
  • If a bear approaches your site, pack up your food and trash. If necessary, attempt to scare the animal away with loud shouts, or by banging pans together. If the bear is persistent, move away slowly to your vehicle or other secure area.
  • Keep children close at hand.
  • Keep pets properly confined to a leash or in a vehicle or camper.
  • Always respect bears and admire them from a distance.

Park officials said the Forest Order aims to keep bears and people safe and prohibits possessing or leaving food, bear attractant or refuse unless it is kept properly or stored properly.

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