Black bears may seem cute and relaxed from far away, but they can attack if you get close. That's why wildlife officials are warning hikers of increased bear sightings in the North Carolina forest.
While bears will rummage for food leftover by hikers and passing campers, there have been recent reports of them stealing food and backpacks from trails in North Carolina, WSOC reports. As the weather gets warmer and more people make their way onto trails, the bears have been known to linger in the area for days, hoping to find food that has been left behind.
On Friday (June 4), the U.S. Forest Service said it has received "reports of increased bear encounters" on four Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness trails within the Nantahala National Forest: Haoe Lead Trail, Stratton Bald Trail, Hangover Lead Trail and Hangover Trail.
According to WSOC, the new reports come days after the agency temporarily banned camping in a portion of the Appalachian Trail in Tennessee after "aggressive bear activity."
No injuries have been reported, but the agency still urges caution to hikers visiting the area. If you do end up in a confrontation with or attacked by one of the bears, the Forest Service said to fight back with anything you have available.
"Act aggressively and intimidate the bear by yelling and waving your arms," the agency said. "Playing dead is not appropriate."