Oh, and the Graveyard Fields area is closed to overnight camping temporarily, too!
The US Forest Service has announced a temporary closure of the Graveyard Fields area to overnight camping due to bear activity in the area. This isn’t unusual and we don’t always post these types of temporary closures because there are so many of them (always check with the land manager before heading out!)
However, what’s more interesting to me about the latest news release is that the Forest Service is requiring bear canisters now for camping in the areas adjacent to Graveyard Fields. The news release does not specify an expiration date for this rule, and I wonder if it means a gradual transition to this rule being the norm as bear population increases and human encounters do as well. It’s already required in some parks and forests across the U.S.
Below is the official Forest Service news release.
National Forests in North Carolina
160A Zillicoa St.
Asheville, N.C. 28801
Media Contact: Derek Ibarguen, 828-421-4844
Forest Service Closing Graveyard Fields to Overnight Camping due to Recent Bear Encounter
PISGAH FOREST, N.C., Mar. 20, 2015 – The U.S. Forest Service is temporarily closing the Graveyard Fields Area to overnight camping.
This closure, issued in consultation with the N.C. Wildlife Commission, has been implemented due to human safety concerns after a bear entered a tent and removed a hiker’s backpack. No injuries were reported.
The U.S. Forest Service will monitor the area over the next few weeks to determine when to reopen the area to overnight camping. The area remains open for day use.
“In springtime bears are opportunistically looking for food that campers and trail users bring on their trips,” said Pisgah District Ranger Derek Ibarguen. “Black bear attacks on people are rare but when we do have encounters we do our best to break the cycle of success so the bears do not become habituated to humans – protecting both our visitors and the bears.”
Additionally, the U.S. Forest Service is requiring overnight campers to use bear canisters in the adjacent areas of Shining Rock Wilderness, Black Balsam, Sam’s Knob and Flat Laurel Creek Areas. Numerous reports have been received of bears acquiring food from backcountry campers in this area. Use of bear canisters will reduce the bear’s success and enhance visitor safety.
All bear canisters must be commercially made; constructed of solid, non-pliable material manufactured for the specific purpose of resisting entry by bears.
Please ‘Be Bear Aware’
Do not Store Food in Tents
Properly Store Food by Using a bear proof container
Clean up food or garbage around fire rings, grills, or other areas of your campsite
Do not leave food unattended
For more information visitors are encouraged to call the Pisgah Ranger District at (828) 877-3265.
For tips, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/r8/recreation/safety-ethics
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).