Bear-resistant containers mandatory in parts of Sawtooth National Forest
KETCHUM, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) —Sawtooth National Forest now requires visitors to store all food and garbage in bear-resistant containers to deter black bears.
The regulation applies to the Sawtooth National Recreation Areas from the Saturday before Memorial Day through Labor Day. The SNF made the announcement Monday morning.
Bear-resistant containers must be approved by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.
“Based on human/black bear incidents that have occurred in the past on the Sawtooth NRA, I have determined that it is time to implement a food storage order with the hopes that it will discourage bears from becoming habituated to human food,” said Sawtooth NRA Area Ranger Kirk Flannigan. “I hope that visitors will understand that this special order is being implemented for their own safety, the safety of others camping nearby, and conservation of our black bear population.”
According to the news release, the Forest Service works closely with Idaho Department of Fish and Game on black bear management issues and supports the order.
During the past several years, Sawtooth NRA saw multiple bear incidents, including more than 20 in 2017 alone. Incidents involved black bears feeding on human food, pet food, garbage and other attractants such as cooking waste and toiletries when visitors to the Sawtooth NRA were absent from camp or sleeping.
The Forest Service explained that once rewarded, bears can become more emboldened, escalating the potential for adverse encounters with visitors. In rare cases, visitors have been injured during these encounters. These bears become dangerous to people and are often euthanized in defense of human safety and property.
Anyone found in violation of the order could be fined more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization and up to six months in prison.
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