Bear activity closes Cherokee National Forest Campground

Officials are trying to capture a bear that has been spotted several times around Paint Creek Campground.
Published: Jul. 17, 2021 at 2:02 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 17, 2021 at 2:04 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Tenn. (WVLT) - Officials with the United States Department of Agriculture and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency have closed Paint Creek Campground to allow officials to capture a bear in the area.

The announcement comes after several weeks of bear sightings, officials say.

“Based on the reported behavior of the bear it is certainly conditioned to foods in the campground and losing its fear of people,” said TWRA Black Bear Program Leader Dan Gibbs. “An effort to trap the bear is the preferred course of action. This will reduce opportunity for its behavior to escalate which could result in injury to someone utilizing the campground.”

Forest Service officials also warn visitors to be on the lookout for black bears in the surrounding area. “Black bears in the wild are opportunistic, feeding on whatever is readily available. Food odors and improperly stored garbage will attract bears to campsites and picnic areas, even when humans are around,” the warning states.

A forest order prohibits the processing or leaving of food anywhere in the Cherokee National Forest.

The campground will be closed until the bear is caught, officials say.

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