Visitors to Panthertown on the Nantahala National Forest are asked to take precautions to avoid bears after recent reports of increased encounters. No injuries have been reported. Encounters include bears stealing packs and riffling through camping supplies and gear. The bears will often stay in the area of the incident for multiple hours. This time of the year black bears are opportunistically looking for food that campers and trail users bring on their trips. According to District Ranger Mike Wilkins, “Bears become used to people due to the close proximity of residential neighborhoods and the regular use of the same camping spots. Once there is more natural food available across the forest the bears should be less aggressive.” While black bear attacks on people are rare, such attacks have resulted in human fatalities.