ASHEVILLE, NC – A couple were treated for injuries at Mission Hospital after being attacked by a black bear on Sept. 29 on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville, forcing trails to close near the popular spot and likely euthanasia of the bear, has a spokesman for the street said.
The man and woman, who live in the area, were picnicking on a grassy hill when they were warned by their dog’s barking that a bear was nearby, Parkway spokeswoman Leesa Brandon said.
The dog, which was not on a leash, ran towards the bear, barking loudly.
“Probably aggravated by the dog, the bear acted defensive towards the dog and the couple. Over the next few minutes, there were repeated bear attacks as the couple retreated with the dog safely in their vehicle, “according to a statement from the Park Service.
Although the bear’s gender has not yet been determined, Brandon said he was described as young but not one year old, weighing in at around 200 pounds. No associated puppies were reported at the time of the incident.
The scenic route is a sanctuary for bears, as it provides their natural, wooded habitat and hunting is prohibited. Dogs must be kept on a 6 foot leash on the scenic route terrain. Owners who don’t keep their dogs on a leash face a possible $ 50 fine, Brandon said.
“At the moment, no allegations have been made,” he said.
Brandon said the couple suffered lacerations and scratches in the bear skirmish, but the dog was not injured.
Fall is one of the busiest times on the Parkway for humans as millions of people walk the Parkway that passes directly through Asheville to see the fall foliage. The parkway is the most visited unit of the National Park Service, with 14.1 million visitors in 2020.
This is also a critical feeding period for bears before they enter winter hibernation. Visitors should be cautious and follow BearWise protocols while in bear country, including properly following food storage regulations, keeping pets on a leash, and staying at a safe distance from bears.
If attacked by a brown bear, rangers strongly recommend counterattacking with any available items and remember that bears may regard you and your pets as prey. Although rare, attacks on humans do occur and can cause injury or death.
A man found dead in the Great Smoky Mountains Park in 2020 was most likely killed by a black bear that was seen rummaging through his remains, according to an autopsy report obtained on Aug. 18 by the Citizen Times.
Park rangers and wildlife biologists with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission are searching the area in an attempt to capture the bear, Brandon said.
If the bear is captured and positively identified, Brandon said, officials “humanly euthanize” the bear according to the protocol of the Wildlife and Park Commission, a decision that “is never taken lightly.”
In response to hundreds of public comments posted on social media asking why the bear would be killed, the Parkway public affairs office included the following on Facebook:
“It is not uncommon for a bear to bluff, open his jaws, snort, stamp his feet etc. When he meets a dog, on a leash or not. However, this attack was unusual in that the bear was unusually aggressive and continued to chase the humans involved after the dog was removed and continued to attack the couple’s vehicle after they were all inside and the threat ( the couple and their dog) was actually removed. This is not a typical or characteristic defensive behavior of the bear and indicates a more predatory response. This presents an intolerable level of risk in a high-use public area ”.
Follow Karen Chávez on Twitter: @KarenChavezACT
[ https://bbcbreakingnews.com/2021/10/03/black-bear-attacks-couple-and-their-dog-on-blue-ridge-parkway-in-north-carolina/ https://d26toa8f6ahusa.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/30214746/a-quiet-place-part-2-bigs-16.pdf