Hikers warned of bear activity due to litter near McAfee Knob

Litter can cause bears to become more comfortable around humans and make a habitat out of visiting shelters and trails

A warning for hikers on a popular trail: Bear activity is on the rise near McAfee Knob.

ROANOKE, Va. – A warning for hikers on a popular trail: Bear activity is on the rise near McAfee Knob.

Trash, camping gear and food waste were all left behind in the McAfee Knob area earlier this week. Kathryn Herndon-Powell with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy says this kind of garbage is causing bears in the area to become overly active.

“In this area we have a history of having human-bear conflicts because it is such a heavily visited area. During this time of year it is a real concern for the wildlife impact as well,” said Herndon-Powell.

Since installing bear resistant storage containers on the trail in 20-16… bear incidents were down, until now. Henrdon-Powell says they have received three reports of bear incidents this month which is the highest number over the last five years.

“Anybody who has an encounter with a bear anywhere on the AT that feels like something seemed a little off, we would love to hear about it. It helps us really track when we have an escalating situation,” she said.

To prevent this, hikers must do their part.

“I think it’s about being prepared, like bringing bags. We aren’t exactly avid hikers but we know enough to bring a bag, trash bags. what you bring in, bring in, bring out,” said Mcafee Knob hiker, Kevin Kriger.

As day hiking becomes more popular this time of year, officials want to remind people to follow the “Leave No Trace” principles

“A lot of the kind of official leave no trace guidance for respecting wildlife is around storing food properly and keeping your dog on a leash. A lot of other things fall under that too like disposing of waste properly, is really all about pack it in, pack it up. take out all your trash with you.”

Learn more about the Appalachian Trail, here.

About the Author:

Sydney joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2021.