Bear Vs. Camper Confrontations Could Trigger Camp Closures

Close encounters with black bears are on the increase. Photo credit: Idaho Fish and Game

Idaho Fish and Game officials in the Magic Valley Regional Office continue to receive reports of ongoing issues with black bears in dispersed campsites in the North Fork area of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, located approximately six miles north of Ketchum. The reports, which have increased over the last several days, have come from campers and groups using a local church camp who have reported bears entering tents or attempting to gain access to hard-sided campers. No injuries to people have been reported.

Bears gaining access to food or garbage continues to be at the root of the problem with human-bear conflicts in the Wood River Valley. It is unknown at this time if these situations can be attributed to an individual bear or if it involves multiple bears throughout the North Fork drainage. Since late July, multiple reports have come from Camp Manapu where bears have been seen around the camp, and on two occasions a bear, or bears, entered unoccupied tents at the church camp and destroyed sleeping bags. It has been reported that no food was found in the tents; however, there was a report of perfume in one of the tents.

Over a three-night period, a person camping near the North Fork Wood River trailhead reported a bear entering his campsite, and on one occasion the bear climbed onto the top of his hard-sided camper.

Officials with the Sawtooth National Recreation Area are aware of the bear situation and are expected to be issuing a notice of dispersed campground closure in response to the bear encounters with people. Fish and Game officers will deploy a bear trap in the North Fork area in an attempt to remove the bear, or bears, since they have become a threat to public safety.

For more information or to report a bear encounter please contact the Magic Valley Regional Office at (208) 324-4359. If after hours, contact the local sheriff’s office.