ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WGHP) — A stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway is shutting down temporarily after reports of people trying to hold a young bear.
The National Park Service says the agency had received multiple reports of “visitors feeding and attempting to hold a young bear” at the Lane Pinnacle Overlook, according to a news release.
Effective Monday, officials have closed the route from milepost 367.6, near the Craggy Gardens Picnic Area, to milepost 375.6, Ox Creek Road, including the visitor center at milepost 364.5. NPS says this closure will extend “until further notice.”
“We are closing this section of the road temporarily for the safety of both the bear and park visitors,” Superintendent Tracy Swartout said. “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.”
The Craggy Gardens recreational area will still be accessible via N.C. 80 from the north.
NPS says bears may forage for food for up to 20 hours a day between the months of September and November as the animals work to put on weight ahead of hibernation. The animals may try to take advantage of human food when they have the opportunity, but people should not encourage this behavior.
Anyone who encounters a bear while on the Parkway is asked to call (828) 298-2491 or stop at the nearest Visitor Center to report the encounter.