Bear creates havok, causes closures of campground
VERNAL - The dry summer and increased human activity in the PR Springs, Willow Canyon camping area of the Book Cliffs has attracted black bears to the vicinity.
Officials with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources issued a Wednesday press release saying that in the Book Cliffs camp has a prowling bear the area.
The Bureau of Land Management, responsible for the camping permits, has enacted a temporary closure of the campsite after a black bear broke into two camp trailers.
"We've set a trap," says Boyde Blackwell, UDWR regional supervisor. "We hope to capture the bear soon."
In the meantime, Blackwell said that overnight camping is not allowed in the area. "And," he says, "if you visit the area during the day, please be aware that an aggressive bear is in the area."
Ron Stewart, UDWR regional conservation outreach manager, said the trailer break-ins are, in fact, typical bear foraging behavior.
Hungry bears are opportunistic hunters who flip things over and tear things up to find food, said Stewart, so it's not surprising they they would break into cars and trailers.
"This one broke into the trailer by crashing through the skylight and then rummaging around for food before exiting through the skylight," he said.
It may be a little too aggressive but "bear safety is everyone's responsibility," Stewart says.
The mountains, foothills, deserts and other wild places where Utahns and visitors like to visit and recreate are also home to wildlife, including a healthy population of black bears, says Stewart.
Their numbers may be pushing the younger animals closer to campsites in the effort to find food.
Dinosaur National Monument spokesperson Dan Johnson says there have been campsite closures due to bears in the monument.
Black bears have been seen in the Yampa and Green River corridors this year but no problems have arisen.
"We have been getting reports from rafters that there have been numerous sightings along the rivers. So far, none of the bears have been doing anything besides regular bear behavior."
The key to keeping bears out of campsites or cabins is storing food, deodorants, toothpaste and other scented items in places where bears can't get them.
That means cooking grills should be clean - campsites and cabins should be clean - and trash should be removed completely. Never feed a bear.