Bears and beef jerky: Why park service recently closed LeConte backcountry

Black bear, Photo Date: 9/22/2016 (PIXNIO)
Black bear, Photo Date: 9/22/2016 (PIXNIO)(KMVT)
Published: Oct. 19, 2019 at 11:28 AM EDT
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Three instances of "aggressive bear activity" prompted officials to close the LeConte backcountry, while the LeConte hiking trail and lodge remain open.

Since October 5, young male bears have tried to enter buildings connected to LeConte Lodge, according to Dana Sohen with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

"We've had a series of incidents in the area involving property damage where young male bears have attempted to enter buildings associated with the lodge and also the backcountry shelter in search of food and garbage," Sohen said.

On Tuesday, park officials said a young bear damaged an out building where garbage and laundry are stored. That same bear, Sohen said, went into the backcountry shelter and took a "food reward" of beef jerky out of a backpack.

The park service has set up a culvert trap to catch that bear or any other nuisance bear that may come back looking for another "food reward."

Two bears from other incidents were trapped, fitted with GPS collars and moved out of the area.

Warning signs have been placed on trails around the area to warn visitors.

Copyright 2019 WVLT. All rights reserved.

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