Authorities have closed two campgrounds in eastern Kentucky to search for black bears sighted in the Daniel Boone National Forest.
A family reported seeing black bears at Holly Bay Campground in Laurel County on Saturday (July 28) and alerted campground officials, prompting the evacuation and closure of the campsite, examiner.com reported.
Kim Begley told WKYT-TV that she was camping there with her family when they saw a large baby black bear eating from a trash can and playing, indicating the mama bear couldn’t have been far from the area.
Begley said she and her family have been camping at Holly Bay for 25 years and have never seen a bear until now.
Great Meadows Campground in McCreary County was also closed on Saturday after a black bear reportedly approached visitors.
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) said they think the bears have a reduced food supply because of the ongoing drought and are out seeking food in a wider area, including the Holly Bay Campground.
“Due to the drought, this year’s berry crop was lost much earlier than normal in most parts of eastern Kentucky,” Steven Dobey, Bear Biologist with KDFWR, told LEX 18-TV.
“Berries are a primary important food source in mid-summer and without them, bears roam widely in search for food.
The campgrounds will remain closed until the bears are captured and moved or until officials determine that the bears have moved outside of the campgrounds.
According to the latest Drought Monitor, more than 85 percent of Kentucky was experiencing abnormally dry to exceptional drought conditions.
Bear sightings in areas normally not seen have increased because of the widespread drought across the country.
Grand Canyon National Park officials reported a very rare black bear sighting in June due to the drought conditions.