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A young adult male bear stands in Katmai National Park, Alaska.

AP photo

A young adult male bear stands in Katmai National Park, Alaska.

Forest Service urges bear safety in North Carolina

The Associated Press

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ASHEVILLE — The U.S. Forest Service is urging those who are outdoors in North Carolina to be careful around bears.

Forest Service spokesman Steven Westcott told the Asheville Citizen-Times that black bears are not usually aggressive toward people.

But Westcott said people should be aware of the possibility of danger.

He says close encounters with bears are not unusual, although it’s been several years since a bear attacked anyone in the Asheville area.

Westcott said bears claw into tents and backpacks looking for food. He says people should never keep scented items or food in a tent.

North Carolina Wildlife Commission biologist Mike Carraway said he’s heard a number of bear-related complaints this spring in western North Carolina as bears become active searching for food.

The Forest Service also recommends that people keep their campsites clean of food scraps and garbage. People also are urged to never leave food or coolers unattended.

Food should be stored in a car trunk or high in a tree that is not near the campsite if bear-proof containers are not available.

People should move slowly away from bears to a vehicle or secure vehicle. If attacked, the Forest Service recommends that people fight back with anything that is available and that they do not “play dead.”