Protecting bears and humans goal of bear box project

Most of us that camp in wilder areas such as national forests have heard the saying, “A fed bear is a dead bear.” And if you’ve been to a campground, you’ve seen the sturdy metal bear boxes where campers store their food while away from the campsite and while sleeping. Yet, some campers still practice bad food storage habits, which are not only bad for the bear, but can also be dangerous for campers. Wildlife groups are joining up to put a stop to that.

“The goal is to have people put all of their food and other attractants in some sort of box, vehicle, or container that’s fully enclosed and hard-sided,” said Jillian Thornton, a bear education technician for the U.S. Forest Service, as reported by KIFI/KIDK. “And that way even though the bear can smell what’s in there, it can’t gain access to the food and get a reward.”

The forest service just installed 14 bear boxes at the Spring Creek Campground at Hebgen Lake in Montana, which is a rarity to have a box at each campsite. 

“When bears do get food they basically imprint on that area and they will come back over and over and over again,” Thornton said. “So if you let a bear get human food, it starts seeing people as a food source, which, if a bear comes up to you expecting that you have a sandwich cause he got a sandwich in this campsite yesterday, cause someone didn’t store their food, and you don’t have a sandwich he’s maybe probably going to come after you. So the danger to people is huge if you don’t store your food.”

These bear boxes, built by Bear Guardian out of Rexburg, Idaho, are part of a five-year, $1 million project put on by the U.S. Forest Service and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. Together they have put nearly 1,200 bear boxes at 164 campgrounds in five national forests. 

 

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