How to handle bear encounters
A black bear tried to open a cooler and rubbed against a woman’s arm as she read a book this week — continuing to cause problems for campers in an area north of Ketchum.
Still, Idaho Fish and Game and the Sawtooth National Recreation Area announced Thursday that the campgrounds along the North Fork of the Big Wood River that have been closed will re-open for this weekend.
Reports of problems with the bear first surfaced July 15. Campgrounds along part of National Forest Service Road 146, also known as North Fork Road, were closed at the time.
Fish and Game has set two traps in the area for about a week to try to capture the bear, which has “shown no outward signs of aggression to date,” according to Josh Royse of Fish and Game.
“But it is also not showing an appropriate fear of humans and it is extremely food conditioned,” said Royse, who is a regional conservation officer.
The bear has been reported in the area for three weeks. It woke some campers at 12:30 a.m. July 12 and put its mouth on the foot of a sleeping camper the next evening (the bear didn’t break through the sleeping bag). Both times, the bear ran off after the campers yelled.
The bear tried to open a cooler at 4 p.m. July 19 in the Wood River Campground near SNRA headquarters and rubbed against the woman’s arm at 6 p.m. as she sat in a chair reading.
The SNRA hopes the bear has left the area but Fish and Game will continue to try to remove the bear from the area.
“We are working directly with our concessionaires to educate all the people in the campgrounds and surrounding dispersed sites about cleaning up their camps and putting their coolers and food up when they are finished with them,” said Kirk Flannigan, Forest Service Area Ranger for the Sawtooth NRA. “The campgrounds that have been closed up the North Fork will reopen Friday, July 21, due to the belief that the bear has moved out of the area. With that said, we really need campers to keep their camps clean and report any bear sightings.”