Crater Lake and Maroon Bells Campgrounds have been closed to overnight camping due to bear activity in the area. There have been too many human and bear conflicts which has prompted Colorado Division of Wildlife to close these areas for safety.
This bear problems at Crater Lake and Maroon Bells are excellent examples of why campers have to be bear aware for all camping trips. Campers that have not taken the precautions to be bear aware have trained the bears in this area to seek out humans as a source of food. Instead of fearing humans they come into the area looking for trash and other things that are easy to get into. Please do everything you can to be a responsible camper and to always be bear aware.
Here are some of the details of the Crater Lake and Maroon Bells Campground closures.
Officers from Colorado Parks and Wildlife will be staging in the Crater Lake area this week to use non-lethal methods for adverse conditioning the bears, including stun guns and rubber buckshot and bean-bag rounds fired from shotguns to discourage bears from visiting Crater Lake campsites, where the bears often find meals of human food and garbage.
“We are working closely with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to do everything we can to re-train these bears to search for food in their natural environment,” Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Karen Schroyer said. “We are being forced to take these measures due to a small but consistent number of campers who do not properly store their food and garbage while camping in the area. It only takes one irresponsible camper to perpetuate the problem.”
On July 10, an emergency regulation was enacted requiring all overnight campers in Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness on White River National Forest to store food, garbage and other attractants in hard-sided storage containers that are approved under the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee Courtesy Inspection Program.
Since the regulation has been in place, Forest Service personnel patrolling the wilderness area have seen 50 to 75 percent compliance with the food storage restriction. Rangers have been issuing warning and violation notices in an attempt to increase compliance. Some visitors do not come prepared or are not using storage canisters correctly. As a result, emboldened bears in West Maroon Valley continue to become increasingly dangerous to visitors in search of human food and garbage, particularly at Crater Lake where bears have been rewarded with human food and garbage regularly.
Here is more information on 9 News about the bear problems at Crater Lake and Maroon Bells campgrounds.