Bear attack near Blue Ridge Parkway prompts closures, restrictions

Black bear in glass

While black bear attacks are rare, they do occur and can be very dangerous (photo by Dana/stock.adobe.com)

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According to a press release, a bear attack occurred near the Folk Art Center in Asheville, North Carolina earlier this week.

This has prompted area trail closures and food prohibitions on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

On Sept. 29, a couple was treated for injuries and released after a bear attack in the parking area of the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Bear attack near the Blue Ridge Parkway

According to the release, the couple was having a picnic on a grassy hill near the Folk Art Center. Their dog alerted them about a bear.

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 their vehicle.

The couple drove to Mission Hospital, where they were both treated for their injuries and released.

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

Read Also: Are bear attacks common in the Smoky Mountains?

Where are the temporary closures near the Blue Ridge Parkway?

Due to the incident, there are some temporary closures and restrictions in effect in the area:

  • A closure at the Mountains to Sea Trail from the intersection with the Visitor Center Loop Trail, near milepost 384 to Riceville Rd. Bridge at milepost 382
  • Closure at the Folk Art Center Nature Loop Trail and all trails accessed off of Bull Mountain Road
  • No picnicking between the Asheville Visitor Center and adjacent parking areas near milepost 384 to the Haw Creek Overlook near milepost 380

Fall is a critical feeding period for bears

Visitors should remember that the fall period is a critical feeding period for bears before they enter winter ‘hibernation’.

But also remember, bears in the Smoky Mountains do not fully hibernate, but enter long periods of sleep. So, it is possible to spot a bear throughout the winter months as well.

Read Also: Why black bears don’t really ‘hibernate’ in the Smokies

Park visitors should take necessary precautions and be BearWise while in bear country. This includes properly following food storage regulations, keeping pets leashed and remaining at a safe viewing distance from bears at all times.

If attacked by a black bear, rangers strongly recommend fighting back with any object available. 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.

They are conducting foot patrols of the immediate area.

Park rangers would like to remind guests to be BearWise as we enter the fall season (photo by dbvirago/stock.adobe.com)

What happened to the black bear?

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 identified, officials will humanely euthanize the animal, per park and NCWRC protocol.

“It is not at all uncommon for a bear to bluff charge, pop their jaws, huff, stomp their feet etc. when they encounter a dog, on or off leash,” officials said on the Blue Ridge Parkway social media page.

“However, this attack was unusual in that the bear was uncharacteristically aggressive … This is not typical or characteristic defensive bear behavior and indicates a more predatory response. This presents an intolerable level of risk in a high-use, public area.”

“The decision to euthanize an animal of any kind in the park is never made lightly, and we are committed to identifying the correct bear through the use of DNA samples collected on-site at the time of the incident,” the statement continued.

Practicing bear safety in the Smoky Mountains

Black bear sightings are common around the Smoky Mountains. Therefore, it is important to know what to do if you see one.

Never approach a bear, never offer food for the bear and always keep your distance.

Read Also: What to do if you see a black bear, these 3 tips might surprise you

For more information about bear safety, visit the NPS website.

Have you seen a black bear in the Smoky Mountains? Let us know in the comments.

Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at info@thesmokies.com for questions or comments.

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9 thoughts on “Bear attack near Blue Ridge Parkway prompts closures, restrictions”

  1. Hate to see bears put down because of human induced behavior. People should be required to keep dogs on leash in park. Having a picnic should be restricted to designated areas during fall season. Bears are competitive at this time of year. They should have gotten in the car when they saw the bear if he was coming their way.

  2. I haven’t been to the Smoky Mtns. or the BRP to see one, but just the other night, there was a black bear in my driveway around 9:15 pm as I came home from picking my daughter up from work & I live about 7 miles outside of Morganton, NC in Burke Co. It is the first time I have ever seen a bear other than in a zoo or on tv/pics. I have seen bear tracks (or rather my Mom did) in Avery Co. when I was young & that same day on the mtn, I heard one growl, & there was a mother bear seen very close to where I live now back about 14 yrs ago when her cub was hit by a car. Other than those instances, I have never encountered a bear, so to see one in my driveway a short distance from my house was a little scary to say the least. Now I am kind of scared to go outside at night actually. It looked to be a young bear (still big though)& skinny-looking for how bears usually look on tv. Which is probably why it was in a residential area. Probably looking for food which is even more terrifying to me.

  3. We’ve ran into several bears camping in recreation areas and dispersed campgrounds at different times over the last couple years. The best thing we’ve found so far is our car alarm, light, and safe food practices. Our first sighting at carolina hemlocks, my fiance was at the car and my daughter was in the tent with the bear in between, he set off the car alarm and turned on the headlights and the bear ran away. We always keep our car fobs handy now. When not around the vehicles we use high output flashlights at night and handheld mini fog/air horns. (Easy for the kids to use) They spook easy and are not normally aggressive. They are beautiful creatures and you have to remember this is thier home. We also keep trash suspended and food in airtight containers in the car when not cooking. We have found snakes, spiders, ants and bees to be more of a problem lately than anything. With the warmer winters there is an overabundance of bugs. If you have allergies keep Epipen on hand always!!

  4. Why are you all surprised? This is exactly what happens when people feed wild animals! Bears and other wild creatures begin to think of humans as a source of food and lose their fear of us, and they are the ones put down because of stupidity!
    Shame on us..

  5. We just stayed at a chalet in Gatlinburg and saw black bears from our deck areas every day. One afternoon a very large bear walked up the hill and went under our decking. He came out on the road side of our chalet and sauntered on down the road. We got great photos.

  6. The dog definitely should’ve been leashed first off. But what I would like to know is how injured was the poor dog? It wasn’t his fault he was unleashed and he was just being a dog. Poor pup. Also, they said something about repeated attacks from the bear but they didn’t mention any other injured people.

  7. My son and his family was staying in a cabin back in the spring,and came back from dinner and there was a good sized bear in the hot tub on the back porch… They sent me a picture of it, said they were okay…but would not be using the hot tub!!!! I was terrified my 3 year old and 3 month old granddaughter were with them!!!
    I too hate to hear an animal is going down… Parks need to hand out Bear information to ever visitor coming into bear territory!!!!

  8. As a family that loves to vacation @ Smokies, the States, TN, NC & all towns approaching Mts. have notices to protect bear & human conflict. Easy methods to understand! The couple should be fined for not leashing dog.

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