NPS: Bear attack closes trails across the Blue Ridge Parkway

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(B.Stack/WJHL)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WJHL) – A couple was attacked by a black bear Wednesday in the parking lot of the Blue Ridge Parkway Folk Art Center in Asheville, prompting food prohibition and trail closures around the area according to the National Park Service.

Park officials say on September 29 the couple was picnicking on a hill near the center when their dog began barking at a bear in the area and running towards it. The release from the park states that the bear was “likely aggravated by the dog,” and acted defensively toward the dog and picnickers.

After the first confrontation, the report says the bear attacked the couple multiple times while they retreated to their car and escaped the area. Once out of danger, the couple drove to Mission Hospital of Asheville and were treated for their injuries.

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

Closures in the area are detailed below:

  • Mountains to Sea Trail from Visitor Center Loop Trail (MM 384) to Riceville Road Bridge (MM 382).
  • Folk Art Center Nature Loop Trail.
  • All trails accessed by Bull Mountain Road.
  • Picnicking between the Asheville Visitor Center (MM 384) and Haw Creek Overlook (MM 380).

The report also mentions that fall is a “critical feeding period” for bears in the region as they store fat for the winter. While park goers enjoy nature this season, park officials encouraged visitors to remain “BearWise” by taking precautions with food storage, pets and behavior.

The release said anyone who finds themselves in a potential attack should fight back with “any object available.”

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