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Pinedale Online > News > August 2005 > Keeping bears away from your food

Cinnamon Bear. Photo by Clint Gilchrist, Pinedale Online.
Cinnamon Bear
A cinnamon-colored black bear in the Wyoming Range in June. Photo by Clint Gilchrist, Pinedale Online.
Keeping bears away from your food
BTNF Food Storage order in effect March through October
August 1, 2005

One of the most common questions we get asked by people heading up into the wilderness is, "What about bears?"

So far this summer, we have not heard of any encounters between humans and bears (black or grizzly) in the Upper Green River Valley. Bears live and roam the Bridger Wilderness, Wind River Mountain Range, Gros Ventre Wilderness area and the Wyoming Range mountains. The northern part of the Upper Green, including Green River Lakes and Square Top Mountain, are located in designated Grizzly Bear habitat. Special food storage rules apply to these areas for anyone camping or recreating on the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

The Expanded Food Storage order took effect in March, 2004 on the Bridger-Teton and Shoshone National Forests (which manage both sides of the Wind River Mountains). Its purpose is to keep forest visitors safe by avoiding encounters with bears and preventing bears from being attracted to campgrounds, trailheads, picnic sites and other areas frequented by people.

For specific information about current bear activity, stop by the local Forest Service District Office when you get to town and before you head out to the area you plan to recreate.

Items requiring proper storage
* Human food (including canned food, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages)
* Harvested game animals and parts
* Pet food
* Processed livestock feed and grains
* Personal hygiene items such as soap, toothpaste and deodorants
* Garbage and empty food and beverage containers

Proper storage methods
All food and other items that might attract bears must be stored where bears can’t access them at night, and during the daytime when these items are unattended. Attended means, “a person is physically present within 100 feet and in direct sight of the food or carcass.” Proper storage methods include placing food and other items in bear resistant containers or hard-sided vehicles or suspending them at least 10 feet above the ground and 4 feet from any vertical support. Meat and food poles have been installed at numerous trailheads and back country sites so that harvested big game and food can be properly hung above ground out of the reach of bears.

Bear resistant containers
Bear resistant containers include the heavy metal boxes placed in campgrounds and other approved containers such as bear resistant horse panniers and backpackers’ containers that are certified through the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee Courtesy Inspection Program. Note that plastic or metal food coolers, backpacks and leather or canvas horse panniers are NOT bear resistant. Bear resistant panniers and food tubes are available for loan at the local Forest Service District Offices in Pinedale and Big Piney for a nominal fee.

Storing game meat and parts
Properly stored big game animals and parts must be at least 100 yards from a sleeping area, recreation site or National Forest System Trail. Game meat left unattended on the ground must be at least one-half mile away from any sleeping area or recreation site and at least 200 yards from a National Forest system trail. Small game (birds and mammals) and fish should be stored in a similar manner to other food products. Camping and sleeping areas must be established at least ½ mile from a known large animal carcass on the ground or at least 100 yards from a properly stored big game animal carcass.

For more specific information, contact the Pinedale or Big Piney Ranger District offices:
Pinedale Ranger Station: 307-367-4326
Big Piney Ranger Station: 307-276-3375

Related Links
  • Bridger-Teton National Forest
  • Pinedale Online > News > August 2005 > Keeping bears away from your food

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