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 at milepost 418 on the Blue Ridge Parkway 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.

 

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