Bear, provoked by dog, attacks couple in Blue Ridge Parkway parking area
ASHEVILLE, NC (WDBJ) - 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 near Asheville, North Carolina.
The couple was having a picnic near the Folk Art Center, according to parkway officials, when their dog alerted them about a bear. The unleashed dog ran toward the bear, barking. Parkway officials say the bear was likely aggravated by the dog, and the bear attacked as the couple and dog went to their vehicles. The couple drove to a hospital.
“Due to the bold and aggressive nature of this attack,” parkway officials say, temporary closures are in place on all trails in the area. Outdoor food is prohibited until further notice.
Park rangers and wildlife biologists, in coordination with NC Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC), are working to track and capture the bear, and are conducting foot patrols of the immediate area. If the offending bear is captured and positively identified, via DNA analysis, “officials will humanely euthanize the animal, per park and NCWRC protocol,” according to parkway officials.
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.”
Closures and restrictions until October 8 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
Bear safety tips are available at Bearwise.org. If you encounter a bear while on the Parkway, call (828) 298-2491 or stop at the nearest Visitor Center to report it.
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