Foraging bear prompts officials to close part of Maple Campground to protect campers

Foraging bear prompts officials to close
part of Maple Campground to protect campers


Robert Stevens

Managing editor



MAPLE CANYON—The Manti-La Sal National Forest has closed five campsites at the Maple Canyon Campground, and completely closed Left Fork Canyon, due to continued sightings of a bear foraging for food

According to U.S. Forest Service Public Information Officer Rosann Fillmore, Maple Canyon campsites one, two, three four and six are closed to camping except in RV’s, trailers or cars until Oct. 1, or until the order can be safely rescinded.

Fillmore said Left Fork Canyon as a whole is closed until June 9 to allow the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) personnel to trap the bear in the canyon without interference.

Fillmore said the DWR, working with the forest service, was unsuccessful in attempts to  discourage the bear from visiting the campground by shooting it with rubber bullets.

If successfully trapped, the bear will be relocated, Fillmore said.

A forest service official first sighted the bear on May 5, licking dirty dishes left at a campsite and searching through garbage at another campsite.

A DWR conservation officer and Sanpete County sheriff’s deputy responded to the initial sighting, shooting rubber bullets at the bear until it left. Hounds later tracked it to a tree four miles south of the campground.

According to Fillmore, the bear returned to the campground June 3 and approached campers who were cooking. The campers frightened it away, but the bear returned twice more to take food as the campers were packing.

Since then, Fillmore said, the DWR has placed a live trap in Left Fork Canyon. The forest service issued the closure order in the interest of public safety.

Campers are advised to store food, drinks and scented items securely in your vehicles,  bear-safe containers or trees—never in tents.

Also, Fillmore said, they should dispose of trash in bear-proof dumpsters, if available. Never approach or feed a bear, and report bear sightings to your campground host. She said you should also wipe down picnic tables, burn food off of stoves or grills, pitch tents away from trails in the backcountry, and always sleep inside your tent.

For more information about safety around bears, see the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources web site at http://www.wildlife.utah.gov/learn-more/bear-safety.html.

The official closure order for Maple Canyon Campground is posted at the Sanpete Ranger District Office in Ephraim.