A regulation for overnight campers to carry bear-resistant canisters for garbage, toiletries and food seems to have curbed conflicts with black bears on a portion of the Appalachian Trail, according to officials with the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests.
The regulation was put in place in 2012 for an area of the Blood Mountain Wilderness in an attempt to avoid closing a 5-mile section of the Appalachian Trail from Jarrard Gap to Neels Gap. Camping areas were closed seasonally in previous years out of concern for hikers.
The regulation will again be in effect this year from March 1 to June 1 for any campers within a quarter mile of that section of trail, which includes the Blood Mountain Shelter, Woods Hole Shelter and dispersed camping areas in Jarrard Gap.
“We took this measure to protect hikers and make our campsites less alluring to the bears that live here,” said Blue Ridge District Ranger Andy Baker in a news release. “So far, we are seeing fewer bear-hiker interactions, and that’s a good thing for both the hikers and the bears.”
Bear-resistant canisters can be purchased at most places that sell camping gear. They must be solid and nonpliable.