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Section of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Parkway closed after visitors interacted with bears


An eight-mile section of the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina is closed after visitors were caught “feeding and attempting to hold a young bear,” the National Park Service said in a news release.

The park service said that the decision to shut down the stretch of the national park during peak leaf peeping season comes “after multiple documented reports” of visitors engaging with a young bear at the Lane Pinnacle Overlook, which is about 12 miles northeast of downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

“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.”

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A black bear sits in a pile of leaves

A black bear is viewed along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Craggy Mountain on October 6, 2015 near Asheville, North Carolina.  (George Rose/Getty Images)

Officials said that 8-mile portion of the road will remain closed “until further notice.”

In the fall months, bears may forage for food up to 20 hours a day as they prepare for the winter and hibernation, the National Park Service said.

Blue Ridge Parkway view during the fall

View from the Blue Ridge Parkway located in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville North Carolina on Wednesday, October 25, 2023. (Thomas O’Neill/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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Bears are more likely to take advantage of human food during this time, officials warned.

Overlook at the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina during fall foliage

Cherry Cove outlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway located in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina on Wednesday, October 25, 2023. (Thomas O’Neill/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Park visitors and residents should keep food out of sight and follow these bear safety tips

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If you encounter a bear while on the Parkway, call 828-298-2491 or stop at the nearest Visitor Center to report the encounter.





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