CLEVELAND, Tenn. (WATE) — Appalachian Trail campers, be aware of black bears. The Department of Agriculture U.S. Forest Service is closing camping access at a site along the Appalachian Trail due to a report of an aggressive bear, officials said Friday.
The camping closure at the Abingdon Gap Shelter is in immediate effect at the Tennessee-Virginia border to the Low Gap and 421 Highway intersection.
“U.S. Forest Service officials are also urging visitors to exercise caution when recreating within the area and be on the lookout for black bears,” a news release stated.
Additionally, an official forest order was drafted Friday and will include the closure order for all camping at Abingdon Gap Shelter on the Appalachian Trail from the Tennessee-Virginia border to the Low Gap-Highway 421 intersection.
Visitors along the Appalachian Trail are asked to please report any future bear sightings within the area to the campground host or to the Watauga Ranger District office at 423-735-1500.
Visitors are also asked to not remove any bear activity signage for the safety and awareness of fellow visitors. For more information on how people can live responsibly with black bears please visit BearWise.
Safety tips from BearWise include:
- Avoiding walking, hiking, jogging, or cycling alone
- Keep dogs on a leash
- Make noise so that bears know you are in the area
- Carry bear spray and know how to properly use it
- If you encounter a bear, don’t run. Back away slowly while making noise and do not turn your back on the bear
- In the unlikely case you are attacked or come into contact with a black bear, fight back
Earlier this week in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, two trails were closed due to a large concentration of black bears.