DARRINGTON — Campgrounds in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest have seen an uptick in bear visits this summer, according to the Forest Service.
Bears have been raiding garbage dumpsters and campsites with left-out food.
The animals generally have fled humans in these cases, Forest Service spokesperson Colton Whitworth said.
With keen senses of smell, the creatures are drawn by incorrectly stored food and trash, Whitworth said.
The Forest Service is now working to retrofit dumpsters at campgrounds so they are bear-proof.
As tempting as it might be, offering food to bears that seem tame is never a good idea, according to the Forest Service.
Bears that begin to associate people with an easy meal become dangerous.
These habituated bears often can’t be scared away or relocated to other areas. They will continue returning to areas occupied by humans and ultimately will need to be euthanized.
So far this summer, that hasn’t been necessary.
As fall approaches, Whitworth said the animals will become less wary of people as they begin concentrating on storing fat reserves for the winter.
Most conflicts with bears are caused in part by human negligence.
The Forest Service recommends the following practices when camping in bear country:
Keep a clean camp site. Bears are attracted to dirty dishes, cooking messes, food scraps, trash, urine, and even dirty diapers.
Don’t store even tiny amounts of food or scented items such as lotion, deodorant, or perfumes in a tent. A bear has a sense of smell seven times that of a bloodhound and these items may pique their interest.
Do not leave food unattended at a campsite or in your vehicle.
If a bear shows up at your campsite, make noise and try to get the bear to leave, then notify the host or a local forest ranger.
Use bear-resistant food lockers and dumpsters where provided or bring your own.
Do not store garbage at camp site. Use a designated dumpster.
At an undeveloped camping location, keep your sleeping area away from where you cook, store food and trash, and where you decide to relieve yourself.
If you encounter a bear and it is not an emergency, contact the state Department of Fish and Wildlife between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 425-775-1311.
Julia-Grace Sanders: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.