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Bears Force Camping Order In Eagle County

Due to recent increased bear activity, a food storage order has been implemented for all developed recreation sites on the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District in the upper Roaring Fork Valley of Pitkin County including the designated campsites along Lincoln Creek and Castle Creek. Nineteen sites on the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District in Eagle County are also included. This order has been implemented to provide for public safety, wildlife conservation, and reduce wildlife habituation problems. A copy of Special Order 2310-3 found on the forest web page along with locations: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5422606.pdf.

There were multiple bear encounters in the Lincoln Creek area the night of Friday, May 24.  A large bear approached campers at one or more camp sites and was undeterred by human presence, shouting, car horns, and other noise and commotion.  One camper reported that the bear tried to open a car door with people and a dog inside.  Previous campers that improperly stored food and garbage probably played a major role in these incidents.  When bears associate food and garbage with humans and their belongings, they will become habituated to the human environment.

The food storage order helps break the bear’s link between human presence and a possible reward of food or garbage. If bears don’t get rewarded, their natural behavior is to avoid humans and their belongings. Compared to natural foods that bears eat in the wilds, human foods and garbage have a tremendous amount of calories, fat, and nutrients.

The order prohibits certain activities that tend to attract bears to public use areas.  Visitors to the specified camping sites must store their food, cooking equipment, cooking utensils, and coolers in a bear resistant container such as a closed, locked vehicle or food locker.  Any odorous substance can attract bears, including garbage and refuse, cooking oil, dirty dishes, and toiletries.  It is important to prevent bears from associating any such odors with people.

Violations of the food storage restriction order are punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual, $10,000 for an organization or imprisonment for not more than six (6) months, or both (16 U.S.C. Section 551; 18 U.S.C. Sections 3559, 3571).

Additional information about camping on the White River National Forest may be found on the Forest Service website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/whiteriver/  which includes ranger station locations, hours open and telephone numbers.

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