Increased bear activity in campgrounds, store food properly
June 11, 2020
SEELEY LAKE – Busy campgrounds across the Seeley Lake Ranger District are experiencing an uptick in bear activity prompting Forest officials to remind visitors to be “Bear Aware” and store food and other attractants properly.
In the past two weeks, multiple bear sightings have occurred at Big Larch and Seeley Lake Campgrounds. At times, bears have come within 10 feet of humans and dogs, they have been spotted investigating tents, vehicles and coolers looking for food rewards. No injuries to humans or pets have occurred.
“We are working with our partners at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to prevent what we call bear “food-conditioning” which is when a bear gets used to searching for and eating food from coolers, pet food, garbage or campsites,” said Quinn Carver, Seeley Lake District Ranger. “Bears that associate people with food can create a major safety issue for campers.”
Bears that become “food-conditioned” ultimately become nuisance bears and have the potential to become dangerous to people. They pose a risk to public safety and may have to be euthanized. FWP captured a subadult, black bear in Big Larch Campground and euthanized it June 3 due to food conditioning.
The Lolo National Forest Food/ Wildlife Attractant Storage Special Order requires that any type of attractant including pet food, beverages and trash must be attended or stored in a bear-resistant manner.
Tips for recreating in bear country:
• Always keep a clean camp. Keep tents and sleeping bags free of food, attractants and odors. Don’t sleep in the same clothes you wear while cooking or eating.
• In campgrounds, food/attractants must be stored in hard-sided vehicles/campers, and other approved devices.
• When dispersed camping or camping in the backcountry, hang all food, trash and other odorous items well away from camp and at least 10 feet above ground and 4 feet from any vertical support, or store in a bear-proof container. Livestock feed should be treated the same as human food.
• Information on a bear resistant container that has been approved by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee is available at http://igbconline.org/certified-products-list/. Most bear-resistant containers sold in local outdoor retail stores meet these requirements.
For additional information about recreating in Bear Country visit FWP’s page http://fwp.mt.gov/recreation/safety/wildlife/bears/ and the Lolo National Forest webpage https://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/lolo/home/?cid=stelprdb5287227&width=full