PARKS — Apparently because of sloppy campers who came previously, people with coveted Smith River floating/camping permits have been getting disappointing phone calls.
Montana state parks officials have closed the Smith River State Park between Camp Baker and Eden Bridge because black bear looking for food and showing no fear of humans are turning up at the boat-in camps.
Bears have been getting into food storage coolers, they said.
No one has been injured, but to play it safe, the river has been closed since Saturday.
The bear activity has resulted in the need to close numerous boat camps, making it difficult to provide adequate and safe camping opportunities for those floating the central Montana river. People put in for the permits in a lottery each spring and only a fraction of the hopeful crowd draw reservations.
The river will be closed until wildlife managers can resolve the situation.
People with upcoming permits to float the river are being contacted by Smith River State Park staff.