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Campers warned to be bear aware

By: Janet Kim Email
By: Janet Kim Email

After being closed for several days after a bear attacked a hiker, trails and campgrounds are open again at the Red River Gorge, and it's expected to be full this fourth of July weekend.

The recent bear attack hasn't stopped many families from enjoying what Mother Nature has to offer.

The Amy and the Walling families are among the many who flocked to the Red River Gorge hiking and camping areas when it reopened Friday morning.

"We had been trying to make the best of it doing area hikes excited to get in the park and do the other hikes we planned to do," says Kristy Amy, who is visiting the Red River Gorge this weekend.

The Gorge was closed Sunday after a hiker was attacked by a black bear along the Pinch-Em Tight Trail. It was last spotted about 20 miles from the attack site Thursday in Lee County.

"We are comfortable that we don't think it's in the Gorge anymore," says District Ranger Dave Manner.

Traps and bait have been removed, but a food storage order is in place in case there are any more bears.

"Your actions in feeding a bear could create problems for someone else that might encounter later on that humans are a food source," says Manner.

New signs are going up explaining the food storage order in place to keep the bears away.

It's a tip even Grace Walling knows.

"You have to throw away the litter and animals can't get to it as much," says Walling.

The order in the Red River Gorge prohibits any open food storage or leaving food accessible to bears. Food should be stored inside a closed vehicle, not in a tent. In Kentucky, it's illegal to fee bears intentionally or unintentionally.

Campers in the back country area are being told to hang food at least 10 feet high, out of a bear's reach.

Forest officials say extra forest personnel will be on hand through the weekend.

Despite opening the Gorge, fish and wildlife officials say the search for the bear is not over.

Violation of the food storage restriction can be punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 or six-months in jail.


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