Blue Ridge Parkway officials announced that, through June 24, tents and soft-sided campers are temporarily prohibited at Mount Pisgah Campground. The campground, near Milepost 408 and south of Asheville, has seen increasing bear activity in recent days.
In particular, a young bear has established a pattern of entering occupied camp sites, coming too close to campers, and taking food from the sites. Park rangers and wildlife biologists are responding to the area and will attempt to "disassociate the bear from human food rewards" so all camping can resume. No injuries have been reported.
Allowing bears access to human food and garbage can cause a number of problems, such as changing the bear's behavior and causing them to lose their instinctive fear of humans.
Over time, these bears may begin approaching people in search of food and may become unpredictable and more dangerous. Studies have also shown bears that lose their fear of people by obtaining human food and garbage do not live as long as bears that feed on natural foods and are afraid of people.
Campers and hikers are also reminded to take necessary precautions while in bear country, including properly following food storage regulations and remaining at a safe distance from bears. If attacked by a black bear, rangers strongly recommend fighting back with any object available and remembering that the bear may view you as prey. Though rare, attacks on humans do occur, causing injuries or death.