Shenandoah National Park reopens trails to hikers with dogs after bear attack

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LURAY, Va. (WHSV) -- UPDATE (9/12/2016):

The Shenandoah National Park has reopened the Dickey Ridge area to visitors with dogs. This area is in the North District of the park, around mile 4.6 of Skyline Drive.

Earlier this year, on August 10, the overall area - about one mile by two miles - was closed to dogs in order to "reduce the risk of negative encounters between dogs and bears" following a bear attack that resulted in the death of a dog on the nearby Snead Farm Fire Road.

Wildlife biologist Rolf Gubler stated, “Over the past four weeks, park staff documented no further reports of dog-bear incidents or persistent bear behavior in the Dickey Ridge area since the temporary dog closure went into effect on August 8, 2016. As a result, we are lifting the Temporary Dog Closure in the Dickey Ridge area.”

Visitors are reminded to keep their dogs on a 6-foot leash.

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UPDATE (8/18/2016):

On August 4, the Snead Farm Fire Road and Snead Farm Loop Trail were closed to all hikers as park staff worked to monitor the area following a bear attack that resulted in the death of a dog.

Now, the Shenandoah National Park has reopened those trails to hikers, but they will remain closed to visitors with dogs.

During the closure period from August 4-18, park staff regularly patrolled the trails and monitored with remote trail cameras. No additional unusual bear behavior was documented on those trails during the closure period.

These trails are near the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center at mile 4.6 of Skyline Drive. The greater Dickey Ridge area will still remain closed to any visitor with a dog. A map of the area can be found at the bottom of this article.

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UPDATE (8/10/2016):

The Shenandoah National Park has established a temporary closure to dogs in the greater Dickey Ridge area. A map of the area affected can be found at the bottom of this article. It's about one mile by two miles, extending to the park boundaries from Skyline Drive milepost 3.5 in the north to milepost 6.5 in the south.

The area is closed to reduce the risk of negative encounters between dogs and bears.

Sally Hurlbert, with the National Park Service says, "This action in no way will change the Park’s policy of allowing dogs in the park. It is being taken with an abundance of caution to provide a resident sow and two cubs with an adequate buffer from disturbances by dogs within this bear’s home range (the greater Dickey Ridge Area)."

The closure will be in effect from now through approximately September 5. The open and mowed area right around the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center remains open to dogs, so long as they are on a 6-foot leash.

The Snead Farm Fire Road and Loop Trail will remain closed to hikers while park staff continue to monitor the area.

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ORIGINAL STORY (8/4/2016):

A trail and a road in Shenandoah National Park have been closed as park staff monitor the area in which a bear confronted a hiker and attacked one of his dogs, who later died due to injuries sustained.

On August 3, 2016, a hiker reported an encounter with a mother bear and two cubs on the Snead Farm Fire Road near Dickey Ridge Visitor Center (mile 4.6 of Skyline Drive). The hiker was accompanied by two dogs on retractable leashes. Confronted by the bear, the hiker fled the area, at which point the bear attacked the trailing dog who later died of its injuries.

The Snead Farm Fire Road and Loop Trail will remain closed while park staff monitor the area. Hikers with dogs are asked to avoid the Dickey Ridge Area.

Park Superintendent Jim Northup said, "We are very sad to learn about this dog that died as a result of injuries from an encounter with a bear in the park. This is a very rare event, and we offer our condolences to the dog's family".

Park regulations require that dogs be leashed at all times on a leash that is 6' or less. When confronted by a bear, walkers and hikers should stand their ground, wave their arms and make a lot of noise. Running from a bear can trigger their prey response.

Just over a week ago, the park reopened trails in the South District of the park following reports early in July of bears behaving erratically. All the information related to those closures can be found in the 'Related Stories' section of this article.