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Photo by Jack Cumming, via National Park Service

Shenandoah National Park officials late Wednesday afternoon warned of another close bear encounter involving food packed in by hikers, this latest incident on the summit of Old Rag Mountain south of Sperryville.

It is the second such bear incident in a week’s time involving human food.

“We need to talk seriously about bears!” officials said this afternoon, hoping to get people’s attention. “When a bear obtains human food, a dangerous situation is created. The bear will be incredibly persistent about getting more. This [incident] has just happened at the summit of Old Rag and we are dealing with the consequences. We need your help at Old Rag (and throughout the park!)”

The park released a photograph, snapped by Jack Cumming and posted by the park on its social media sites shortly before 4 p.m., of a bear dashing away from the top of Old Rag carrying in its mouth what appears to be a plastic bag containing food. A person is standing a few yards beyond the bear, with Cumming, who took the picture, on the bruin’s other side.

To address the situation at Old Rag, the park has now “greatly increased the ranger presence at the trailhead, and along the trail to educate visitors. Trained bear management staff will also be at the summit.”

“Please do your part whenever you are in Shenandoah for your and our bears’ safety!” the park stated.

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