FRANKLIN, N.C. -- The Forest Service is warning people about black bear encounters in the Panthertown area of the Nantahala National Forest.
Panthertown is in Sapphire, NC, which is located in Transylvania County.
Forest officials say they've had recent reports of bear encounters in Panthertown. No injuries have been reported.
According to a release, bears have stolen food multiple times with people around. A bear even shredded a tent with no food inside.
Forest officials say the bears often stay one to two hours at the place of the incident and in one case a bear was undeterred by bear spray.
Most incidents have happened at the Panthertown Shelter.
This time of year black bears are looking for food that campers bring on their trip.
District Ranger Mike Wilkins says it's early in the year, so once there is more natural food available, the bears should back off.
To avoid bear attacks, experts recommend the following:
- If you notice a bear, pack up your food and trash immediately and leave the area.
- If a bear approaches, move away slowly; don't run. Get into a car or a secure building.
- If necessary, try to scare the bear away with loud shouts, by banging pans together, or throwing rocks and sticks at it.
- If you are attacked by a bear, try to fight back using any object available. Act aggressively and intimidate the bear by yelling and waving your arms. Playing dead is not appropriate.
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