- Associated Press - Saturday, April 22, 2017

FRANKLIN, N.C. (AP) - The U.S. Forest Service is warning visitors to a western North Carolina recreation area to be on the lookout for black bears.

Specifically, the Nantahala National Forest is warning visitors going to Panthertown. Most bear encounters have occurred at the Panthertown Shelter.

While officials say no injuries have been reported, bears have stolen food multiple times with people present and reportedly shredded a tent even though no food was inside. In one case, a bear was undeterred by bear spray.

District Ranger Mike Wilkins said one or more bears have become used to people due to the proximity of residential neighborhoods and the repeated use of the same camping spots. Wilkins said once there is more natural food available across the forest, the bears should be less aggressive.

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