(WJHL) — A section of the Appalachian Trail in Northeast Tennessee has been closed to camping due to bear activity.
The Cherokee National Forest says camping is not allowed between Double Springs Shelter and the trail’s intersection with Backbone Rock Side Trail (miles 451 and 464). The McQueen’s Knob emergency shelter and Abingdon Gap Shelter are also closed.
Through hiking on the trail will still be allowed.
The Forest Service says the closures are in response to multiple reports of aggressive bear activity and evidence of bears entering campsites and taking food.
The Cherokee National Forest prohibits possessing or leaving food, bear attractant, or refuse unless it is possessed properly or stored properly.
While black bears are naturally afraid of humans, those that have been habituated to human food can begin to associate human scents with the reward of food. As a result, bears can become a threat to humans.
The Forest Service recommends visitors follow the procedures below to reduce the chances of a close encounter with a bear.
- Never leave food or trash unattended.
- Never cook or store food in or near your tent.
- Hang food and anything with strong odors (toothpaste, bug repellent, soap, etc.) at least 12 feet off the ground and 6 feet from a tree or limb, or use special food storage canisters and cable systems if available.
- Keep a clean site by properly disposing of garbage including fruit rinds and cores, empty
cans or jars and aluminum foil used for grilling or cooking.
- Never feed a bear or other animals.
- Never approach a bear.
- If a bear approaches your site, pack up your food and trash. If necessary, attempt to scare the animal away with loud shouts, or by banging pans together. If the bear is persistent, move away slowly to your vehicle or other secure area.
- Keep children close at hand.
- Keep pets properly confined to a leash or in a vehicle or camper.
- Always respect bears and admire them from a distance.