A couple was treated for injuries and released Wednesday evening after a bear attack in the parking area of the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville.

The couple was having a picnic when they were alerted to a bear by their dog. The unleashed dog ran towards the bear barking loudly, and the bear acted defensively.

Over the next several minutes, there were repeated attacks by the bear while the couple retreated with their dog to the safety of their vehicle. The couple drove to Mission Hospital where they were both treated for their injuries and released.

Because of the aggressive nature of the attack, all trails in the area and outdoor food is temporarily prohibited. Parkway visitors are reminded that fall is a critical feeding period for bears before winter hibernation.

Park visitors are reminded to take necessary precautions, including properly following food storage regulations, keeping pets leashed and remaining at a safe viewing distance from bears.

If attacked by a black bear, rangers strongly recommend fighting back with any object available and remember that bears may view you and your pets as prey.

Though rare, attacks on humans do occur, and can cause injuries or death.