Panthertown-Bonas Defeat Bear Sanctuary

Bear Sanctuary

Protect the bears in Panthertown.

How to help?

LATEST NEWS: Panthertown bear hunting legislation stalled in committee
(8/2/22 Crossroads Chronicle)

Contact your legislative representatives.

The Panthertown backcountry recreation area has been designated by the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission as part of the Panthertown-Bonas Defeat Bear Sanctuary.

Visitors should be aware that American black bears (Ursus americanus) live in Panthertown and are protected here. This is their natural, wild habitat. These forests are their territory. This is their home. Please respect the wildlife. The bears thank you!

Bear hunting is currently prohibited year-round anywhere within the bear sanctuary.

Panthertown BearHunting Update August 10 2022


View video of a stakeholder meeting held April 5 in Murphy where a roomful of hunters in attendance discuss the issue with Sen. Kevin Corbin, Rep. Karl Gillespie and Wildlife Commission staff. Gillespie asked for a show of hands from those in support of the rule — and not a single hand went up.

You may also wish to contact your legislative representatives.

Source: NCWRC (2022)

At their February business meeting, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission voted unanimously to allow bear hunting by permit in Panthertown, Pisgah, and Standing Indian Bear Sanctuaries. The Commission also voted to amend the name of these areas from Designated Bear Sanctuaries to Designated Bear Management Areas. 

Unless delayed by legislative review, as of August 1, 2022 the Panthertown-Bonas Defeat Bear Sanctuary would no longer be designated as a bear sanctuary, or provide a safe haven for black bears. The rule has since been sent back to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission by the Rules Review Committee, and NCWRC had pulled the rule back and resubmitted.

Friends of Panthertown does not support bear hunting in Panthertown or the NCWRC rule changes (15A NCAC 10D .0106 BEAR SANCTUARIES) to allow bear hunting by permit here.

We do not believe allowing bear hunts in Panthertown will solve bear/human interaction concerns, or is an appropriate solution. View our objections.

To help prevent human/bear interactions, Friends of Panthertown installed two bear-proof food storage vaults in Panthertown Valley during the summer of 2020, and the U.S. Forest Service now requires bear-proof containers for overnight camping food storage. Plans are underway to install three additional vaults Panthertown Valley this year.

NCWRC reported they “received significant public comment” about the proposed rule change. 2,744 people sent comments to NCWRC. 86% were opposed. Hundreds of objections were also sent to the Rules Review Committee.

UPDATE (AS OF MAY 13): Rules Review Committee Meeting Agenda May 2022

F. Wildlife Resources Commission – 15A NCAC 10D .0106 (Duke)

  1. Final Rules for RRC Review
  2. Communication with agency Updated 5/13/2022
  3. Letter of Objection to Rule 15A NCAC 10D .0106 from April meeting
  4. Original Submission of Rules for RRC review *No changes
  5. Public Comments Updated 5/16/2022
  6. Letters Requesting Legislative Review Updated 5/16/2022
  7. Media Inquiry