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Game and Fish Article

Campers Reminded to be Bear-Aware.

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07/01/2010 - Snow is melting from the high country, roads and campgrounds are beginning to open and many people are heading to the forest to enjoy recreating in the great outdoors. Officials with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department are reminding everyone when recreating, visiting or living near bear country, to be aware that they could encounter a bear at any time.

Baggs Game Warden Ron Iversen recently investigated an incident on the Medicine Bow National Forest in which a black bear broke into a camper in search of food.

"Black bears make their home in the national forest and, while it is exciting and memorable for some people to see a bear, it is important that people take the necessary precautions to avoid an encounter with a bear," said Iversen. "Here it is the first week of June and already we have a situation where a black bear broke into a camper to get food."

Bears learn very quickly to associate food with people. Once bears learn to associate food with people they may become aggressive and dangerous. This may lead to personal injury, property damage and dead bears.

"The most important action when camping or recreating in bear country is to make all food and attractants unavailable to bears," Iversen said. "Attractants to a bear could be things like pop, canned goods, toothpaste, garbage, or dog food. In this case, food items were left outside the camper. After the bear got an easy food reward, it broke into the camper in search of more food. No one was inside and no one got hurt, but there was damage to the camper. If you are going to recreate in bear country, be bear aware."

Anyone camping in bear country is urged to follow these rules:

Chose a campsite free of fresh bear signs; scat, diggings or tracks.

Keep a clean camp. Food and odors attract bears.

Store food, garbage and other bear attractants well away (100 yards) from your sleeping area.

Cook well away (100 yards) from sleeping area. Do not sleep in the clothes that you wore while cooking or handling fish or game.

Remove/pack everything out of the camp site. Don't burn or bury garbage. Bears will dig it up.

Coolers, backpacks, wooden boxes and tents are not bear resistant. Do not leave food or other bear attractants in open vehicles at trailheads, campgrounds or along forest roads.

Bear resistant storage containers are a good method for storing food and other attractants. They can be purchased at many outdoor shops or in some cases may be rented at outdoor shops and US Forest Service offices.

Use bear-resistant trash receptacles and food storage lockers provided in campgrounds.

Clean barbecue grills and store them so they are unavailable to bears.

If possible, leave pets at home. If you do take your pet into bear country keep it under control at all times.

If you have a bear encounter report that encounter immediately to your local Game and Fish personnel or local US Forest Service office.

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