Black bear attacks hiker in Red River Gorge

Officials close popular area in response

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — - A hiker was attacked by a black bear in eastern Kentucky's RedRiver Gorge, prompting officials to close the popular scenic areawhile they try to catch the animal.

The hiker, a man in his mid-50s from Springfield, was taken to anearby hospital after the attack Sunday afternoon, then transferredto University of Kentucky Hospital in Lexington, where he was keptovernight, said Kimberly J. Morgan, spokeswoman for Daniel BooneNational Forest, where the gorge is located.

"He had some pretty serious wounds, but apparently he's doing OKor well enough to be released from the hospital at this point," shesaid Monday afternoon. The man was not granting interviews andasked that his name not be released, Morgan said.

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources employees setseveral traps to try to catch the bear without harming him so anyfurther attack could be prevented, Morgan said.

"The concern is that if it's attacked one person, it couldattack someone else," she said.

There have not been previous bear attacks in the gorge, Morgansaid.

Someone who saw the bear just after the hiker was attacked toldofficials the animal was wearing red ear tags, she said.

The man was hiking with his wife and teenage son but had walkedahead of them on the Pinch-em-Tight trail when the bear walked upto him, Morgan said.

"According to the hiker, he did nothing to provoke the attack,"she said. "He was just hiking down the trail, and the bear showedup."

The hiker's family heard him yell, and another couple also cameto his aid. Morgan said as the others helped the man out, the bearfollowed them to the road.

It wasn't known why the bear stopped his attack, but once hedid, he didn't go away, she said.

"The bear is certainly showing some aggressive behavior," Morgansaid.

The Red River Gorge Geological Area, about 50 miles southeast ofLexington, lies within the Daniel Boone National Forest. Itcontains a network of trails. The Pinch-em Tight trail off TunnelRidge Road is 1.4 miles long and is in the middle part of the area,according to the Red River Gorge website.

 


 

Kentucky Department of Parks Announces Park Remains Open

The Kentucky Department of Parks has announced that NaturalBridge State Resort Park near Slade, Kentucky, remains open toguests and visitors.

Following a bear attack on Sunday to the north east of parkproperty, reports may have suggested that the entire park isclosed.

Trails in the park remain closed temporarily and campers in theWhittleton campground are being relocated to the Middle Forkcampground for extra precaution until the bear is apprehended. Theentire park is situated to the south of the Mountain Parkway andthe bear’s whereabouts has remained to the north and east ofpark property.

 

Meanwhile, the U.S. Forest Service has closed the Red RiverGorge northeast of Natural Bridge State Resort Park to recreationaluse until the bear is captured. The closure includes the CliftyWilderness Area and road access in the area is limited pendingcapture of the bear. Wildlife and law enforcement officers arepursuing the animal. This is the only known bear attack in Kentuckyin modern times.
 


Online Resources:

Red River Gorge Geological Area: http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/boone/districts/cumberland/redriver_gorge.shtml

Bear safety: http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/boone/safety/critters/bearsafe.shtml

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