ASHEVILLE, N.C. — A couple was attacked by a bear near the parking area of the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway on Wednesday.
The couple was treated for their injuries and released that evening. According to park officials, the couple was having a picnic on a grassy hill near the Folk Art Center, when they were alerted to a bear by their dog. The unleashed dog ran towards the bear while barking loudly.
Park officials say the bear likely acted defensively and was aggravated by the dog. The bear attacked repeatedly while the couple retreated with their dog to the safety of their vehicle. The couple drove to Mission Hospital where they were both treated for their injuries and released.
Because of the aggressive nature of the attack, the park issued temporary closures on all trails in the area and outdoor food is currently prohibited.
Closures and restrictions include:
- The Mountains to Sea Trail from the intersection with the Visitor Center Loop Trail near parkway milepost 384 to Riceville Rd. Bridge at milepost 382
- The Folk Art Center Nature Loop Trail and all trails accessed off of Bull Mountain Road
- Picnicking is prohibited between the Asheville Visitor Center and adjacent parking areas near parkway milepost 384 to the Haw Creek Overlook near milepost 380
Park rangers and wildlife biologists, in coordination with NC Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC), are attempting to capture the bear and conducting and foot patrols of the immediate area.
Park officials say a thorough investigation of the scene was conducted and forensic evidence was collected to be used for DNA analysis. If the offending bear is captured and positively identified, officials will humanely euthanize the animal, per park and NCWRC protocol.
Park officials remind visitors that the fall season is a critical feeding period for bears before they enter winter hibernation. Park visitors are reminded to take necessary precautions and be BearWise while in bear country, including properly following food storage regulations, keeping pets leashed 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 bears may view you and your pets as prey. Though rare, attacks on humans do occur, and can cause injuries or death.
For more information about bear safety please visit the park website: https://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/bear-safety.htm.