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Press release from the U.S. Forest Service:

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HAYWOOD COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service is warning visitors in the Black Balsam and Shining Rock Wilderness areas of the Pisgah Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest, to be on the lookout for black bears and “Be Bear Aware.”

The warning comes after recent bear encounters have been reported in both the Black Balsam and Shining Rock Wilderness areas, north of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Haywood County. There were no injuries.

The bears have successfully obtained food from visitors. This time of the year black bears are opportunistically looking for food that campers and trail users bring on their trips. Regulations to require users to use bear-proof food canisters or bags are being considered. While black bear attacks on people are rare, such attacks have resulted in human fatalities.

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Visitors are encouraged to prevent bear interactions by practicing the following safety tips:

Do not store food in tents;
Properly store food by using a bear-proof container and properly hanging it in a tree;
Clean up food or garbage around fire rings, grills, or other areas of your campsite; and
Do not leave food unattended.

For more tips, visit www.fs.usds.gov/nfsnc, click on “Learn about Bear Safety.”

Angie Newsome

Angie Newsome is the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at anewsome@carolinapublicpress.org.

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