From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 38 - December 18, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Food storage order approved

Minimizing conflicts between people and bears is the focus of a revised food storage order that expands requirements for storing food on the Bridger-Teton and Shoshone National Forests and will take effect on March 1, 2004.

The new order, which will replace an existing order that was implemented in 1990, was signed on Dec. 12 by regional foresters Rick Cables and Jack Troyer of the Rocky Mountain and Intermountain Regions, respectively.

Based on a growing number of human-bear conflicts, the new order is aimed at promoting the safety of forest visitors by minimizing those incidents, which have increased in recent years due to the expansion of grizzly bears outside the grizzly bear recovery area and a growing number of conflicts with both black and grizzly bears across the region.

The order requires that food and other attractants be properly stored or hung so that they are not available to bears.

The original 1990 order basically covered the grizzly bear recovery area. The new order will expand food storage requirements only to those areas of the forests where grizzly bears are currently known to exist or may reasonably be expected to occur and considers recognizable geographic features to help forest users comply with the order.

On the Bridger-Teton National Forest, the original order covered the area north of the Spread Creek-Gros Ventre Divide. The new order will cover all of the Jackson and Buffalo Ranger Districts, the northern half of the Pinedale Ranger District, and the northern portion of the Big Piney Ranger District.

The new order will not cover the southern portion of the Wind River Range on the Pinedale Ranger District, the entire Wyoming and Salt River Ranges on the Greys River and Kemmerer Ranger Districts, or the southern portion of the Big Piney Ranger District.

Efforts to expand the food storage order began in the fall of 2001. Through meetings with the public, elected officials and others, the forests found that some people were concerned about the difficulty in complying with the order and that the requirements in the order were unclear.

In response to those comments and concerns and to make it easier for the public to understand and comply with the food storage order and to relate to actual conditions on the ground, a number of changes were made and incorporated into the new order.

The Pinedale District of the Bridger-Teton has had a voluntary sanitation/food storage program in place for about 10 years, recognizing the frequent black bear and human conflicts that have occurred in developed campgrounds and resort areas.

Since a critical component of food storage is helping people learn how to live and recreate safely in bear country, the initial focus of the new order will be on education, not on writing tickets for violations.

Although the food storage order has proven effective in minimizing human-bear encounters in the areas currently covered by the order, problems are arising outside those areas.

Information and educational efforts have proven effective where the food storage order has been in effect the past 13 years. These included a variety of brochures, news articles, signage, bear workshops, personal contacts, fireside talks and presentations to schools, community groups, professional organizations and others.

The forests have installed equipment in campgrounds and the backcountry including bear-resistant food storage boxes, garbage containers and hanging poles. Bearproof equipment such as panniers and backpacker tubes also are available for loan from Forest Service district offices.

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