The Forest Service is discouraging people from backcountry camping and from bringing food into the Panthertown Valley area of the Nantahala National Forest, following several bear encounters. The area is northeast of Cashiers, North Carolina. If visitors choose to camp in the Panthertown area, they should camp in areas that are used infrequently. Three separate incidents of bear encounters occurred recently that involved damaged tents and stolen food. Some of the food was properly hung in trees.