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Bear Attack near Folk Art Center prompts area trail closures and food prohibitions on the Blue Ridge Parkway

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Last Updated on October 1, 2021 9:01 am

A couple was treated for injuries and released Wednesday evening after a bear attack in the parking area of the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The couple was having a picnic on a grassy hill near the Folk Art Center, when they were alerted to a bear by their dog. The unleashed dog ran towards the bear while barking loudly. Likely aggravated by the dog, the bear acted defensively toward the dog and the couple. Over the next several minutes, there were repeated attacks by the bear while the couple retreated with their dog to the safety of their vehicle. The couple drove to Mission Hospital where they were both treated for their injuries and released.

Due to the bold and aggressive nature of this attack, temporary closures are in place on all trails in the area and outdoor food is currently prohibited.

Closures and restrictions include:

– The Mountains to Sea Trail from the intersection with the Visitor Center Loop Trail near parkway milepost 384 to Riceville Rd. Bridge at milepost 382

– The Folk Art Center Nature Loop Trail and all trails accessed off of Bull Mountain Road

– Picnicking is prohibited between the Asheville Visitor Center and adjacent parking areas near parkway milepost 384 to the Haw Creek Overlook near milepost 380

During the busy fall visitation season on the Parkway, visitors are reminded that the fall is also a critical feeding period for bears before they enter winter hibernation. Park visitors are reminded to take necessary precautions and be BearWise while in bear country, including properly following food storage regulations, keeping pets leashed and remaining at a safe viewing distance from bears. If attacked by a black bear, rangers strongly recommend fighting back with any object available and remember that bears may view you and your pets as prey. Though rare, attacks on humans do occur, and can cause injuries or death.

Park rangers and wildlife biologists, in coordination with NC Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC), are attempting to capture the bear and conducting and foot patrols of the immediate area. A thorough investigation of the scene was conducted and forensic evidence was collected to be used for DNA analysis. If the offending bear is captured and positively identified, officials will humanely euthanize the animal, per park and NCWRC protocol.

For more information about bear safety please visit the park website: https://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/bear-safety.htm

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