With black bears in Dinosaur National Monument working to put on pounds for the winter, monument officials have moved to close two backcountry campsites to prevent human encounters with the hungry bruins.
Dinosaur Superintendent Mary Risser said the two campsites are at Ely Creek along the Jones Hole Trail.
“In an effort to reduce interactions between people and the bear and to reduce the
possibility that the bear will get and become habituated to human food, we have decided to close the campground for the remainder of the season," the superintendent announced Wednesday.
“Black bears start to prepare for hibernation in the summer, when they begin gorging on carbohydrate-rich nuts, berries, and other foods to gain weight for the upcoming winter,” explained Natural Resource Management Program Manager Joel Brumm. “It is important that bears be allowed to feed on wild food sources during late summer and fall to gain the weight they need for the upcoming winter. During this time, bears can gain as much as 30 pounds per week, and they require a total reserve of approximately 100 pounds of fat for their winter hibernation.”
“We have had numerous sightings reported to park staff over the past few weeks,” acknowledged Dinosaur National Monument Chief Ranger Lee Buschkowsky. “The bear seems to be residing in the area - at least temporarily.”
The Jones Hole Trail remains open at this time. The trail is very popular with fisherman and day hikers. The Jones Hole river campsites also remain open, but these sites are reserved for river rafting groups through September 14.
Visitors to the popular Jones Hole Trail are advised to be on the lookout for black bears. Although visitors to Dinosaur National Monument may not think of the monument as “bear country,” frequent sightings confirm black bears do live there. Hikers are encouraged to be alert for their presence and report bear sightings as soon as possible at a visitor center or ranger station.
Park visitors are reminded to store food, garbage, camp coolers, and other items that can attract bears in bear-proof storage boxes or hang any items in a bag from a tree. This helps keep bears from becoming conditioned to human foods and helps keep park visitors and their property safe. Should you encounter a bear, never approach it. You should leave the area immediately.
If necessary, National Park Service Rangers will issue citations to persons violating the terms of this closure. The park asks for everyone’s cooperation to decrease the potential for conflicts between bears and visitors in order to preserve one of the monument’s resources and protect visitor safety.