Paint Creek Campground in Cherokee National Forest closed on Saturday and will remain closed until the bear is captured and relocated.
More than one bear has been seen recently at the campground which rangers say is pretty common. However, the aggressive behavior is not.
“One bear, in particular, was a little more aggressive than what we care to see,” District Park Ranger Leslie Morgan said. “We got a couple of reports of the bear, what’s called bluff charging, where they swat the ground and huff and buff their jaws, and it’s a sign of aggression.”
Morgan hopes that since the park is now closed, the bear will find a new place to call home.
“It may just move off if there are no people, no food sources, no smells in the area.”
In the meantime, park rangers have set up a bear trap to capture and relocate the aggressive bear.
“We definitely don’t want to have it open when we have a trap set up like that,” explained Morgan. “It’s too dangerous for the people.”
Morgan added that people may be the reason the bear has called the campground home in the first place.
“Our campground host was on vacation so there was nobody down there to help keep the campsites and reminding people to keep the campsites clean.”
Human food could have been what attracted the bear to the area which is why, she said, it’s important to always lock up coolers in a car or camper.
“It’s kind of a hard time of the year right now for bears. A lot of the berries aren’t ripe yet,” said Morgan, “and so we start seeing a lot of behaviors in campgrounds and stuff like this because of that. They’re seeking out easy food sources for them. They’re hungry.”
Even leaving food scraps out can be dangerous.
“You’re not just putting yourself at risk, you’re putting the bear at risk and other people that come in behind you,” she added.
Park rangers said the campground will remain closed until they capture the bear which could take a couple of days or even weeks.