ASHVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — An eight-mile portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway is closed after park rangers say people have been feeding and trying to hold bear cubs.
Park rangers say they have documented situations Lane Pinnacle Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway of visitors feeding and attempting to hold a young bear in recent weeks.
As a result, officials are closing a portion of the scenic route from milepost 367.6 near the Craggy Gardens Picnic Area to milepost 375.6 at Ox Creek Road. It is closed until further notice.
Park visitors can still access Craggy Gardens recreational area via N.C. 80 from the north. Until the road reopens, the visitor center at milepost 364.5 will remain closed.
“We are closing this section of the road temporarily for the safety of both the bear and park visitors,” said Superintendent Tracy Swartout. “When people intentionally attract bears with trash and food it can lead to very dangerous situations. In this instance, we want to give the bear a chance to lose interest in the area before the situation escalates and visitors or the bear are harmed.”
Park rangers say fall is a critical time of year for bears. Between Sept. and Nov., bears may forage for food up to 20 hours a day as they attempt to put on weight for the winter and hibernation. During this time bears actively seek out natural foods but will also take advantage of human foods when presented with the opportunity.
If you encounter a bear while on the Parkway, you are asked to call (828) 298-2491 or stop at the nearest Visitor Center to report the encounter.