In spite of warnings to visitors at Grand Teton National Park, someone left a backpack with food in it unattended on the shore of Phelps Lake. A black bear sniffed it out and got a taste of human food. Such an incident can lead to a death sentence for the bear.
Many Bears Getting Human Food
Park officials say it is the fourth recent incident of black bears getting access to human packs and other items along lakeshores in the park while visitors were playing in the water. Almost half of all human-black bear conflicts within Grand Teton in the last five years have happened on the shores of lakes.
Store Food Properly
Proper food storage is required in Grand Teton National Park and tourists are required to secure all bear attractants The park is reminding travelers that they, “Have an extra responsibility to do our part to protect these animals by properly securing anything that may attract them.”
Biologists say that a bear that becomes “food-conditioned” may actively start looking for food that is not part of their natural diet. That make the animal dangerous because of potential human-bear encounters.
Park rangers ask any visitor who sees a bear raiding human food sources to report it to the nearest park visitor center. If they are able to intervene quickly, the better able they are to prevent further other conflicts and avoid euthanizing the bear.
Keep Bears Away From Human Food
The key to preventing food-conditioned bears is proper storage
- Properly Store All Attractants:
- Food items, whether fresh or leftovers.
- Coolers, regardless of what’s inside.
- Cooking gear, whether it’s clean or dirty.
- Pet dishes, even if they are empty.
- Toiletries, as they may have a scent.
- Any other items with a scent.
- Use Approved Storage Methods:
- Keep items in a hard-sided vehicle with the windows rolled up.
- Utilize bear-resistant food storage lockers or “bear boxes” where available.
- Special Tips for Recreation at Park’s Lakeshores:
- Plan ahead regarding the storage of your food items.
- Either designate someone to watch over the food or keep them in a closed vehicle.
- Always Keep Backpacks Close:
- Never leave your backpack farther than arm’s reach.
- Even a momentary lapse can result in a bear accessing human food, potentially leading to tragic consequences for the bear.
For more tips on being safe in bear country, please visit go.nps.gov/tetonbears.
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