UPDATE: Blue Ridge Parkway officials are extending the temporary prohibition on tents and soft-sided campers at Mount Pisgah Campground until July 1, 2021, pending successful dissociation of active bears at this location.

Park officials will honor existing reservations during this period at other Blue Ridge Parkway campgrounds or at Mount Pisgah for dates after July 1, 2021. Affected campers will be contacted by park staff and the online reservation system, recreation.gov.

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WSPA) – Some camping will now be prohibited temporarily at Mount Pisgah Campground due to bear activity.

Blue Ridge Parkway officials announced that Friday June 18, 2021 through June 24, 2021, tents and soft-sided campers are temporarily prohibited at Mount Pisgah Campground. The campground, located near Milepost 408, has seen increasing bear activity in recent days.   

They say a young bear has been entering occupied camp sites, coming too close to campers, and taking food from sites. Park rangers and wildlife biologists are responding to the area and will attempt to disassociate the bear from human food rewards so all camping can resume, Blue Ridge Parkway officials said.

No injuries have been reported. 

Existing reservations for tent camping at the campground have been cancelled for the next seven days. Reservation holders were contacted by park staff and through the online reservation system, recreation.gov.

Officials say camping in cars will be permitted during this time, and some tent sites may accommodate hard-sided campers. Walk up camping will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by park staff to ensure equipment meets current requirements.  

Allowing bears access to human food and garbage can cause a number of problems, such as changing the bear’s behavior and causing them to lose their instinctive fear of humans, park officials said in a release Friday.

Over time, these bears may begin approaching people in search of food and may become more unpredictable and dangerous. Studies have also shown that bears that lose their fear of people by obtaining human food and garbage do not live as long as bears that feed on natural foods and are afraid of people. 

Campers and hikers are also reminded to take precautions including properly following food storage regulations 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 the bear may view you as prey. Though rare, attacks on humans do occur, causing injuries or death. 

More bear safety tips are available on the Parkway’s website. If you encounter a bear while on the Parkway, call (828) 298-2491 or stop at the nearest Visitor Center to report it.