CLEVELAND, Tenn. (WATE) — Citing a rise in bear encounters fueled by improperly stored food, Cherokee National Forest has closed one of its campgrounds until further notice.
The Horse Creek Campground in the Unaka Ranger District is now closed, the United States Forest Service announced Tuesday. The closure was recommended by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
A release from the federal agency said increased bear encounters caused by non-compliance with food storage rules risk visitor and bear safety. The agency said campers are reporting dangerous bear encounters on National Forest campgrounds, primarily north of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Cherokee National Forest Food and Refuse Storage Requirements were implemented in 2017 to minimize black bear-human interactions.
Possessing or leaving food, bear attractants, or refuse is prohibited unless it is possessed and/or stored properly. Visitors are required to store unattended food in bear-resistant containers, in a vehicle in solid non-pliable material or suspend food at least 12 feet off the ground. Click here for a complete list of rules and terms.
The Horse Creek Recreation Area is located eight miles from Greeneville, Tennessee. It offers facilities for camping and day-use activities like fishing and swimming. Campsites had been available on a first-come, first-serve, non-reservable basis.