U.S. Forest Service urges bear safety

Sep 9, 2014 8:35 PM by Charlene Cheng

In campgrounds around the North State, black bears have been known to raid campsites, snatch food, and invade tents.

But according to the wildlife experts, these wild animals aren't to blame for their natural behavior.

"The less encounters we have with bears, the better, and even though they're generally very timid, they will get more curious and more aggressive and be less fearful if they equate food with humans," said Susan Thomas, a biological technician with the U.S. Forest Service.

Campers have a tendency to leave food and garbage where it can be reached easily.

To discourage that, the U.S. Forest Service is installing bear-proof food lockers around their campsites.

Marcus Nova
"The last few years we've had an increase of bears coming into the campground, so the bear boxes just provide a good spot to store food or smelly things. Bears aren't just attracted to food, but to other items like toothpaste," said Assistant Resource Officer Marcus Nova.

If bear boxes aren't available, another option is to store food in air-tight containers in your car, but many campsites prohibit that, and for good reason.

"We have heard of bears smelling that food in cars and breaking into cars. One gentleman left a half eaten sandwich on his seat, and his window was cracked, and sure enough a bear came, stuck his paw in the cracked window, and shattered the window, got his sandwich, and ate up half of his seat," Nova said.

If you do find yourself face-to-face with a black bear, take advantage of their typically shy nature.

"If you make a lot of noise, they're generally going to run. Unless there's a cub involved, then you just want to stay away," Thomas said.


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