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MINERAL, CA August 12, 2016 – As of this week, Lassen Volcanic National Park has implemented an emergency closure that affects how backcountry visitors store their food. Visitors venturing into Lassen’s backcountry on overnight trips are now required to store their food and other scented items in an approved food storage container (bear canister). “We have had an increase of reports detailing negative bear and human interactions while visiting the backcountry areas of the park,” stated Park Superintendent Steve Gibbons. “This closure of all other food storage systems will help keep the park’s bears from accessing human food, and in so doing, keep their wild behaviors for finding food as nature intended.”
Since the beginning of summer there have been two to three bears that have gained access to human food in the park. National park rangers have been working in the backcountry to deter these bears by hazing them with non-lethal bean bag rounds as they enter campsites or are too curious about human activities. The rangers also take every opportunity to educate backcountry users on proper food storage and safe practices in bear country. “The key to this issue, and what will ultimately save these bears lives, is to keep them from obtaining any human food,” stated Lassen Volcanic National Park Wildlife Biologist, Mike Magnuson.
Backcountry permits are required for overnight camping in the wilderness and are available at ranger stations, visitor centers and some trailheads. All food, garbage, and any scented articles must be properly secured day and night. Scented items include flavored drinks, cookware, toiletries, insect repellent, first aid kits, etc. Failure to properly secure your items may result in a fine and/or their confiscation. To provide comment on the requirement to use only approved food storage containers, please visit: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectID=66702 .
For centuries black bears have made Lassen Volcanic National Park their home. Their movements are dictated by ancient connections to the seasons, food sources, and their own inclinations. Bears are curious, intelligent, and potentially dangerous animals. When people do not take the proper precautions to protect themselves and wildlife, both bears and people are endangered. The correct actions of people in the wilderness will keep Lassen’s bears and other animals wild.