Latest from The Spokesman-Review
HIKING — Bears have always been good at smelling opportunity.
A hiker who fell, broke his leg and dislocated his shoulder in the North Cascades last weekend said he had to fend off bears while he waited several hours for a helicopter rescue team.
The 50-year-old man activated a beacon that notified his wife after his accident at 6,000 feet on Syncline Mountain along the Pacific Crest Trail, the U.S. Navy told the Bellingham Herald.
- Most mountains in the North Cascades were covered in snow above 5,000 feet last weekend.
A helicopter with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine responded and found him at the bottom of a winding series of switchbacks. But that crew did not have space to land or slings to hoist the man off the mountain.
So they dropped him food, a medical kit and a water bottle with a note letting him know another helicopter, from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, would come to rescue him soon.
Perhaps the bears smelled the rations.
The injured man was hoisted out off the mountain in a rescue basket by the Navy helicopter at 10:30, more than five hours after the accident.
He told the crew he'd encountered more than one bear while waiting, but fended them off with bear spray.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Two female grizzly bears have been transplanted from the Whitefish Range to the Spar Lake area of the Cabinet Mountains as part of an ongoing effort to boost the struggling Cabinet-Yaak grizzly bear population.
The 2-year-old siblings were captured in the Deadhorse Creek drainage on the Flathead National Forest and moved Friday to the West Cabinets and a drainage with a hiking trail to Spar Lake near the Montana-Idaho border.
The bears have no history of conflict with people and have never been captured before, wildlife officials told the Daily Interlake.
Those factors plus their young age are part of the criteria for the augmentation program, a cooperative effort between Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The state agency captures the bears while the federal agency monitors them after their release. The bears are fitted with Global Positioning System tracking collars to allow for their movements to be monitored.
Friday’s release marks the 12th and 13th grizzly bears to released into the Cabinets since 2005.
In the early 1990s, three grizzly bears were moved into the Cabinets. Most of the bears that have been moved have been females.
Last year, a study that made use of genetic analysis of bear hair samples produced a population estimate of 42 bears for the Cabinet-Yaak region.
Wayne Kasworm, a biologist with the Fish and Wildlife Service based in Libby, said that estimate means that there may have been fewer than 15 grizzly bears prior to 1990, and that indicates that the grizzly population might have vanished without the augmentation efforts.
As of last year, it was still unknown if any of the bears that have been moved since 2005 have reproduced. That’s partly because the young bears were moved well before they reached reproductive age of 5 or 6 years old, and they drop their tracking collars within a couple of years.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — No cowboys were trying to rope this stray and put their own brand on it Tuesday, for good reason.
Western Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson had been sitting in a blind near a fox den before he headed toward home near Lincoln.
“As I drove along a back prairie road, I noticed a strange dark-colored cow being chased by the other cows. As I got closer I realized….. that’s no cow…. Weird to see grizzlies on the prairie.”
He apologized for the quality of the image but said he had to document the sighting.
Head 'em up! Move 'em out!
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Researchers are setting snares in the Hughes Meadows area north of Priest Lake this month in an ongoing effort to capture grizzly bears and fit them with radio collars.
As of Tuesday, the two-man crew working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had caught one bear – a black bear. The 5-year-old male, weighing 134 pounds, was ear-tagged and released, said Wayne Wakkinen, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional wildlife manager.
Radio collars have been helping wildlife biologists monitor North Idaho grizzly bears, which are protected under the Endangered Species Act, since the first grizzly was collared in the Selkirks in 1983, Wakkinen said.
More than 80 different grizzly bears have been captured.
“There have been some years when we didn't trap in Idaho but we've generally been trapping in either Idaho or the British Columbia portion of the Selkirk ecosystem since then,” he said.
This year, the first significant research trapping in Washington occurred in May. The federal crew set snares in the Molybdenite Mountain south of Sullivan Lake. No grizzly bears were captured.
“The crew places warning notices at all major access points and trailheads in the area,” Wakkinen said. “They place more signs closer to the actual snare site.”
Researchers also are trapping bears in the northeastern corner of Idaho near Copper Creek and Copper Lake in the Cabinet-Yaak grizzly bear recovery area, he said.
Wayne Kasworm, federal grizzly bear biologist who's supervising the collaring project, said his crews plan to be trapping high in the mountains in July and August.
“We currently have five female grizzly bears with collars in the Selkirks and we hope to collar four or five more,” he said.
Snares are checked at least once a day, or twice a day in hot or cold and rainy weather, he said. Most of the traps have transmitters that signal if they’ve been triggered with a radio signal to the crew.
The snare sites are placed well off of trails to reduce the chance of an encounter with humans, Wakkinen said.
Snare sites are baited, typically with road-killed deer. “If a person smells something stinky the best bet is to not investigate,” he said, “but this advice holds true whether there is trapping going on or not.
“If there's something stinky there's a chance that a predator of some sort – black bear, cougar, grizzly bear – may be around to check it out. Or you might be poking your nose into a recent kill site where a cougar has stashed its prey.
“Radio collars can yield a great amount of information such as survival rates, cause of mortality, reproductive output, cub survival and identification of seasonal ranges and dispersal,” he said. “These data in turn can be used to make informed land management decisions.”
WILDLIFE WATCHING — The death of a grizzly bear in Glacier National Park is a reminder to hikers and climbers that spring and summer trekking across steep snowfields can be hazardous.
A member of the Glacier Park road crew found a male grizzly bear dead on Going-to-the-Sun Road on Thursday morning.
An initial investigation by the National Park Service indicated the bear, one of about 300 grizzlies in the park, probably fell onto the road from a steep snowbank.
A necropsy revealed the 190-pound bear suffered head injuries, broken ribs and other internal injuries consistent with a fall. Park officials say the terrain above where the bear fell includes a steep snowbank, some steep cliffs and a drop of approximately 12 feet.
THREATENED SPECIES — Our big bears need lots of room to roam, something that's in short supply in our ever-more-developed world.
Grizzly bears in NW Montana face trio of obstacles
An estimated 45 grizzly bears reside in the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem in the northwest corner of Montana. In most cases, their lineage traces back to a female grizzly from British Columbia that was trapped and released to the area in 1993 to boost the population. The effort continues as the species struggles with isolation from other populations, conflicts with humans and habitat.
HUNTING — An 11-year old male grizzly bear was killed by black bear hunters near Yellowstone National Park on Wednesday, May 7, according to the Idaho Fish and Game Department.
The incident occurred on the Caribou-Targhee Forest, just off of the Cave Falls Road in Idaho. Both black bears and grizzly bears are known to frequent the area just outside of the southwest corner of Yellowstone National Park.
The incident is under investigation and information will be released as it becomes available, said IDFG, which is assisting the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service with the investigation.
Hunters are responsible for sharpening their bear ID skills.
Educational info and a bear ID quiz — this can be humbling — is available on the Idaho Fish and Game website.
HUNTING — The largest grizzly bear killed and recorded by a hunter has been entered into the Boone and Crockett record book.
The big bruin, taken in 2013 near Fairbanks, Alaska, by Larry Fitzgerald of Fairbanks scores 27-6/16. It missed the world's record mark by seven-sixteenths of an inch but landed a spot as the second-largest grizzly ever recorded. The reigning World's Record is a skull found in Alaska in 1976.
Bears are scored based on skull length and width measurements.
Conservationists use Boone and Crockett trophy data to gauge outstanding habitat, strong recruitment of game animals into older age classes, sustainable harvest objectives and other elements of sound wildlife management and fair-chase hunting.
“One would think that a relatively accessible area, with liberal bear hunting regulations to keep populations in line with available habitat and food, would be the last place to find one of the largest grizzly bears on record,” said Richard Hale, chairman of the Boone and Crockett Club's Records of North American Big Game committee.
Hale said the area is being managed for an overpopulation of grizzlies. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game liberalized hunting regulations to help balance and control bear predation on moose. Baiting is allowed although Fitzgerald stalked his trophy.
Hale added that Boone and Crockett Club recognizes found or picked-up trophies, like the reigning world's record grizzly which scores 27 13/16, alongside hunter-taken trophies because all are useful for documenting historic conservation successes.
HUNTING — Here's a cue for hikers to wear colorful clothing — no black or brown.
Idaho's spring black bear hunting season opened April 15 throughout the Idaho Panhandle Region.
Season ending dates vary by unit. In units 2, 3 and 5 the season closes May 15. Units 1, 4, and 4A close May 31. The higher elevation units close later with unit 6 open through June 30. Units 7 and 9 close July 31. Hunters may use a second bear tag and electronic calls in units 4, 6, 7 and 9 where bear numbers are higher and predation is depressing deer and elk numbers.
Only black bears may be hunted. Grizzly bears could be encountered throughout much of the Panhandle, but grizzlies are protected by state and federal law.
While grizzlies are most commonly found in big game unit 1, they may be found in any of the Panhandle hunting units. Several years ago, a grizzly showed up near Rose Lake in unit 4. To get there it crossed through several big game units where grizzlies are very uncommon.
Also keep an eye out for this bear, as described by Idaho Fish and Game:
Last fall, a female grizzly collared in NW Montana crossed into Idaho big game unit 4. This 16-18 year old bear then spent several weeks in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains. Apparently the area was not where she wanted to settle down for the winter, so she traveled toward the Silver Valley, crossed I-90 somewhere near Kingston or Pinehurst and made her way into the upper St Joe. She likely denned somewhere in the St. Joe drainage.
Her collar was programmed to automatically turn off for the winter to save battery power, so her exact den location is unknown.
The collar is programmed to be back on now, but no signals have been detected. The lack of a signal indicates she is likely still in her den.
As she did not have cubs with her last fall, there is a good possibility she may have new cubs with her when she emerges.
Only the bear knows if she will move back toward Montana, or take up residence in the St. Joe country. Because of the uncertainty of this bear’s next move, bear hunters should be aware that this (or another) grizzly could show up in any Panhandle big game unit.
Under field conditions, it can be very difficult to distinguish grizzly bears from black bears. The mistaken shooting of grizzlies has been a significant factor limiting the recovery of grizzly bears in northern Idaho.
Grizzly bears have a hump on their shoulders, a dished face, longer claws on their front feet, and shorter more rounded ears than black bears.
Size and color are not reliable features to identify the bears. Black bears can be any color from black or brown to blonde; and, grizzlies can be so dark as to appear black. A young grizzly can be smaller than an adult black bear and have a very small shoulder hump.
To prevent mistaken identity, bear hunters must learn to accurately identify black bears and distinguish them from grizzly bears in the wild, often in poor light conditions and possibly from long distances.
- Check out this bear identification training program .
Bear spray is a good item to carry regardless of whether you're a hunter, hiker mushroom picker or anyone heading int North Idaho mountains.
Research has shown that bear spray is more effective and easier to use to deter a bear/human interaction than a firearm.
WILDLIFE — A huge black bear by Oregon standards has been killed by a rancher legally defending the family's property.
Hunters are scratching their heads wondering how they missed seeing one of the biggest bruins experts have seen in the Northwest.
From the Associated Press:
Ranchers in south-central Oregon have legally killed a nearly 500-pound black bear after one of their heifers was killed by a bear and the giant animal was found in the family’s cattle herd.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Craig Foster says Marie Leehmann went beyond legal requirements by obtaining a kill permit before a family member shot the bear.
The Herald and News reports that field biologists say the male bear weighed 490 pounds, stood 6-foot-5 and was 13 to 15 years old. Foster said the largest bear he had previously seen weighed 345 pounds.
The kill permit was issued after it was determined that one of the Leehmanns’ yearling heifers had been killed by a bear. Two days later, on April 4, Leehmann was checking the cows when a bear ran out of the herd. Her son, Ryon, shot the bear within a quarter-mile of their home.
Foster says ranchers are legally allowed to kill bears that attack cattle.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — If you need more reassurance that spring has sprung, Yellowstone National Park officials have reported that grizzly bears are beginning to emerge from their dens.
First bears out of the hatch usually are males. Females with cubs born in the den during winter usually are last out, giving the cubs more chance to develop.
Grizzly bears are emerging from hibernation in the Greater Yellowstone Area, so hikers, skiers and snowshoers are advised to stay in groups of three of more, make noise on the trail and carry bear spray.
The first confirmed reports of grizzly bear activity in the Park were reported on March 4. Guides and visitors observed and photographed a grizzly bear along the road in the Hayden Valley area. The first black bear of the year was observed on February 11 near the south end of the park.
Bears begin looking for food soon after they emerge from their dens. They are attracted to elk and bison that have died during the winter. Carcasses are an important enough food source that bears will sometimes react aggressively when surprised while feeding on them.
Updated bear safety information is available on the Yellowstone bear safety Web page.
While firearms are allowed in the park, the discharge of a firearm is a violation of park regulations. The park’s law enforcement rangers who carry firearms on duty rely on bear spray, rather than their weapons, as the most effective means to deal with a bear encounter.
Visitors are also reminded to keep food, garbage, barbecue grills and other attractants stored in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes. This helps keep bears from becoming conditioned to human foods, and helps keep park visitors and their property safe.
BACKPACKING — If you're thinking about packing a gun on your next hike into Yellowstone, Glacier Park or other areas of grizzly bear habitat, read this story first.
Then check out the video above on how to effectively use bear spray.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — In December, Parks Canada posted this time-lapse video from a trail camera in Waterton Lakes National Park spanning over a four-month period when the area was closed to hikers as a result of flood damage.
See how the animals took advantage of a human-free trail and used it for an easy travel route.
How many species do you count?
WILDLIFE WATCHING — A wolf trapper has answered the question on whether all of Montana's bears have snuggled in dens to hibernate through winter.
A steel leg-hold trap set for a wolf nabbed a 4-year-old male grizzly bear instead on a ranch west of Dupuyer on Tuesday, prompting Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to help the trapper tranquilized and release the bear.
- The photo above indicates the glowing eyes in the spotlight beam were all the officers saw when they drove up in the dark to encounter the trapped grizzly.
If a bear has plenty of food available, it won't necessarily head into its den, even in mid-December, wildlife biologists said.
Read on for the story from the Great Falls Tribune.
THREATENED SPECIES — A panel of wildlife officials says it’s time to lift Endangered Species Act protections for grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park.
An Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee spokesman says the panel’s members voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of ending the federal protections, the Associated Press reports.
The committee’s recommendation will be considered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency could propose a rule by mid-2014 to end protections.
Scientists say there are more than 700 grizzly bears in the Yellowstone region of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming following a decades-long recovery.
Revoking the animal’s threatened species status would open the door to limited hunting, but other conservation measures would stay in place.
Environmental groups worried about climate change say it’s too early to take the bears off the threatened list.
THREATENED SPECIES — A “hair of the bear” study has accounted for at least 42 grizzly bears in the Cabinet Mountains and Yaak River drainage regions of northwestern Montana, according to the Associated Press.
Research leader Kate Kendall reported her findings to the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee Tuesday, the Missoulian reported.
Researchers used about 800 scent-baited “hair corrals” where rings of barbed wire snagged hair as the animals stepped over or under it to investigate the scent. They also collected samples in about 1,200 places where bears naturally stop to scratch their backs, such as trees, posts and poles in a 3,750-square-mile area in the mountains above Eureka, Libby, Trout Creek, Yaak and Troy.
The samples, collected in 2012 and analyzed this year, identified 38 grizzlies by their DNA. Researchers also knew about four collared bears whose DNA didn’t appear in the samples.
“That’s the rock-solid minimum count we detected,” research leader Kate Kendall told the committee at its meeting in Missoula. Including visiting bears and bears that died during the study, the figure could be as high as 54, she said.
The number is important because the health of the grizzly population influences how much logging and mining can take place in the area.
Read on for more details from the AP.
CAMPING — My Sunday Outdoors feature story focuses on bear-proof food canisters — where they are being required for campers and which one to buy.
The video above looks at the story from the bear's point of view.
This bear is very determined, but it doesn't get a reward for trying to steal a camper's food out of a BearVault brand container.
HUNTING — Bears are still out and active throughout the fall as hunters are out for deer and elk hunting — a potentially hazardous mix.
Being bear aware is particularly important for hunters because stalking and harvesting game increases a person’s chance of bumping into bears, says Jamie Jonkel, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks bear management specialist.
“When travelling through dense brush or field dressing an animal, be extra aware and do what you can to warn wildlife of your presence,” Jonkel says. “Always have bear spray close at hand.”
Jonkel says this has been an especially busy fall for grizzly bear activity, especially in Western Montana.
He offers these safety tips for hunting in bear country:
- Always carry bear spray, have it within easy reach and know how to use it.
- If you are going to be alone in bear country, let someone know your plans.
- Watch for fresh bear sign.
- After making a kill, get the carcass out of the area as quickly as possible.
- When field dressing the carcass, keep your can of bear spray within easy reach.
- Use special precautions if you must leave and return to a carcass, including placing the carcass where you can observe it from a distance when you return.
- Do not attempt to frighten away or haze a bear that is near or feeding on a carcass
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Here's another take on that spectacular wildlife watching opportunity posed in mid-September by the death of a bison 400 yards from a road in Yellowstone Park.
- Five grizzlies and five gray wolves challenged each other for three days as they jockeyed for a place at the dinner table.
In the YouTube video above, Deby Dixon — who took a videography course at Spokane Falls Community College from S-R photographer Colin Mulvany — captured an instructive wildlife moment as a wolf nips a yearling grizzly cub in the butt.
Wildlife biologists say this is not uncommon. An Alaska biologist described the same practice to me as he was explaining wolf behavior.
Wolves learn and survive by observing, testing the waters and pushing the limits. Even among grizzlies, wolves are quick enough to get away with murder.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — A dead bison 400 yards from a main road in Yellowstone National Park in September provided the rare opportunity for visitors to see five grizzly bears — rare in itself — and five gray wolves vying for meals off the same carcass at the same time.
I was there, underarmed in dim light with a slow 300mm lens on my camera, but thoroughly enjoying the spectacle through spotting scopes with another 100 or so specators parked along the road between Gardiner and Cooke City.
Other photographers, including Pete Bengeyfield of Dillon, Mont., scored memorable shots, such as these two, using 600mm telephoto lenses and 1.4x extenders.
When I watched the proceedings, all of the grizzlies — the boar as well as the sow and her three yearling cubs — were on the carcass at the same time. It appeared to me that the boar and sow had made rare peace because the five of them had a better chance of keeping the wolves at bay.
Read Bengeyfield's perspective and see more photos in this story from the Billings Gazette.
Click continue reading (below) to see another photo here.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Enjoy an intimate family moment with grizzly bears attracted to a scratching pole by some sort of powerful lure, a bruin's equivalent of ecstasy.
The video starts slow and builds to a frenzy of rubbing. Fun.
Compiled into a video called “What goes on when you are not there!” this camera wound up snapping a bonanza of photos.
Naylor says he doesn’t want the photos to give people the wrong impression about bears in general. Although the footage is cute and humorous, he says, “bears are not cuddly and friendly, they are wild animals that should be treated with caution and respect.”
See Naylor's YouTube channel.
HUNTING — “Is it dead, yet?”
Maybe that's a question you need to ask if your hunting buddy calls and asks for help packing out his bear. From the Associated Press:
KALISPELL, Mont. — Montana wildlife officials say a black bear wounded by a bow hunter bit the arm of the hunter’s companion before succumbing to its injuries.
State Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman John Fraley says a man was hunting Tuesday near Thompson Falls when he shot the 150-pound female black bear with a bow and arrow.
The hunter waited for several hours to try to make sure the bear was dead before he started tracking it.
The hunter located the wounded bear and shot it twice more with his bow. The bear then ran down a hill and encountered a man who had arrived to assist the hunter. The bear bit the second man’s arm before it died.
The injured man was treated at the hospital in Plains and released.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials say the hunter legally tagged the bear.
HUNTING — After several recent human-bear encounters in Idaho and Wyoming, wildlife managers are reminding hunters and others heading into the region’s backwoods to properly store their food and garbage to keep conflicts with the curious and ravenous predators to a minimum.
Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials say anyone who leaves food out is baiting bears.
The animals have a tremendous sense of smell and become habituated to humans if they discover people are associated with easy meals.
The agency urges hunters to keep a clean camp, store garbage in bear-resistant containers or high in trees — out of reach of black bears and grizzlies.
In mid-August, four people in and near Yellowstone National Park were injured in separate bear encounters, though all escaped with minor bite and scratch wounds.
Two animal incidents marked the news yesterday in Boise: A bear found wandering in the North End, which was tranquilized and taken off to the forest north of Lowman for release; and a bull rampaging down the Greenbelt in Eagle after breaking out of its pasture. Initially, authorities warned people to beware on the Greenbelt near Merrill Park yesterday morning as they hunted for the bull, but no capture was ever reported. “They didn’t seem very concerned by yesterday afternoon,” said Ada County Sheriff’s spokesman Patrick Orr. “It was swimming in the river. … They were pretty confident it was going to swim back to the pasture it broke out of.”
The black bear, pictured above, was first sighted around 7:30 Thursday morning behind the Boise VA hospital on Fort Street; it then led sheriff’s deputies and Fish & Game officers on a few hours of “hide and seek,” Orr reported, before the F&G officers were able to get close enough to tranquilize it. Fish & Game warned that dry conditions in the mountains could drive bears to visit town over the next few months, so they advise those living near the foothills to keep trash sealed up and don’t leave food outside.
WILDLIFE — Apparently picnic baskets are no longer big enough for this bear in Colorado Springs… or maybe she just ordered takeout.
Either way, she's no stranger to food from human sources. Enjoy this.
PREDATORS — Defending livestock from wolves and grizzly bears appears to be going to the dogs in Montana.
Study in Montana tests effectiveness of dogs to deter wolves, grizzlies
The National Wildlife Research Center, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services in Utah, has provided $80,000 to study the use of different breeds of dogs to keep wolves and grizzly bears away from livestock in Montana, including Kangals, a long-legged Turkish breed.
—Great Falls Tribune
CAMPING — “Bear spray left in car. Becomes bomb. Very impressive.”
That's a post with the photo above from Hal Herring in Montana, who performed an unintentional science experiment by leaving a canister of bear spray in the back of his Subaru open to direct exposure to the hot summer sun.
Manufacturers say aerosol cans can burst above temps of 120-130 degrees. But the main thing is that the canisters should always be covered — in a duffle, in an uncooled cooler, wraped in a towel under the seat of a car, but NEVER left to the full intensity of the summer sun in an enclosed vehicle.
“Check out the super shred on that bear spray holster…reckon there was a little force there?” Herring notes.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Nevermind if you cannot go to Alaska — you can thrill at the sight of huge brown bears fishing for salmon at an iconic waterfall via a live feed from a Webcam in Katmai National Park.
Click here for the live view documenting the annual gathering of about 100 brown bears descending on a mile-long stretch of Brooks River to feast on the largest sockeye salmon run in the world.
If the link above does not work, paste this URL into your browser:
HIKING — Bear activity has prompted the Idaho Panhandle National Forests today to temporarily close popular trails to Beehive and Harrison Lakes in the upper Pack River drainage of the Selkirk Mountains.
The two trails and the surrounding area are closed to the public until further notice to ensure public safety, said Jason Kirchner, Forest Service spokesman in Coeur d'Alene.
A bear recently entered a camp site near the Beehive Lakes Trail and was able to remove camping equipment and human food, he said.
Campers have to step up and follow simple bear-wise rules to protect campers who come after them as well as public access to these coveted backcountry areas.
This bear — the people involved couldn't verify whether it was a black bear or grizzly — likely had been lured by food previously.
One group's sloppy camping can unnecessarily screw up the outdoor experience for everybody, as this instance proves.
And neglecting to hang or protect food usually brings a bitter end for the bears, as it did this month for bears that had become food-conditioned in Montana's Smith River State Park (see story).
Here are the rules from the Panhandle National Forests
There is a mandatory food storage order in effect from April 1 through December annually. All food and beverages including canned food, soda and beer, garbage, grease, processed livestock or pet food and scented flavored toiletries must be unavailable to bears and stored in bear resistant containers at night and when unattended. For more information on proper food storage, members of the public are encouraged to visit the Idaho Panhandle National Forest’s food storage web site.
Temporary closures are the first step in ensuring public and bear safety when problematic encounters occur.
For more information please contact the Sandpoint Ranger District at (208) 263-5111 or visit the Idaho Panhandle National Forests Website.
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.