Department of Fish and Wildlife
Red River Gorge Reopened, Food Storage Order Issued
WINCHESTER, Ky., July 1, 2010 – Forest Supervisor Frank Beum of the Daniel Boone National Forest announced that the Red River Gorge Geological Area will reopen on Friday, July 2 beginning at 8 a.m.
The gorge was temporary closed last Sunday after a hiker was attacked by a black bear along the Pinch-Em Tight Trail. The emergency closure was issued in the interest of public safety.
The Natural Bridge State Resort Park will reopen hiking trails on Friday morning at the same time. While the lodge, sky lift, and bridge remained open, the park took precautionary steps by closing all of its trails.
Officials with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources are continuing their search for the bear that attacked the hiker. The bear believed to be involved in the attack was last seen Thursday, June 30, south of Beattyville in Lee County. The sighting occurred some 17 miles from the attack site, indicating the bear is no longer in the Gorge area.
“As a result of incoming information and sighting reports, traps and bait have been removed from the Daniel Boone National Forest,” said Steven Dobey, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s bear biologist.
On Wednesday, the Daniel Boone National Forest issued an order for the Red River Gorge that prohibits open food storage or leaving food accessible to bears. This order is applicable to all national forest lands north of Natural Bridge State Resort Park to U.S. Highway 460 in Powell, Menifee and Wolfe counties. In Kentucky, it is against the law to intentionally or unintentionally feed a bear.
“Public safety continues to be our highest priority,” said Beum. “We want our visitors to be aware that black bears have returned to Kentucky, and we want them to know what to do in case they happen upon a bear.
“Forest visitors can help prevent bears from becoming a nuisance by not feeding them or allowing them access to food or garbage,” said Beum.
Red River Gorge campers must store food, including pet food, in a bear-resistant container, inside their vehicle, or in an enclosed hard-body trailer. Backcountry campers must suspend food and garbage at least 10 feet off the ground and four feet away from any tree or pole.
All food leftovers and trash must be properly disposed of in a bear-resistant trash receptacle provided by the U.S. Forest Service. Burning or burying food trash is prohibited. Any odorous items that may attract a bear, such as soap and toothpaste, must also be stored.
“We will have an increased presence in the gorge this weekend to provide additional information to the public regarding safe camping practices,” said District Ranger Dave Manner.
Commissioner of State Parks Gerry van der Meer commented that the park is seeing little to no impact in travelers changing their plans. Guests having reservations at the Natural Bridge lodge and campground were contacted during the week and informed of the bear attack, in the event they wished to make other plans. The lodge and campground are expected to be full for the upcoming Forth of July weekend. Additional ranger coverage and communication with guests will transpire over the weekend, including necessary precautions with regard to food storage and how to avoid a bear encounter.
The public should report nuisance bears and any bear exhibiting aggressive behavior by calling 1-800-252-5378 (1-800-25-ALERT).