Increasingly frequent encounters with sometimes aggressive bears have led to the closure of a camping area near Seattle for the rest of the summer, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
The U.S. Forest Service has closed the Middle Fork Campground and a stretch of dispersed campsites between Pratt River Bar and Garfield Ledges parking lot on Forest Road 56, after reports of ongoing human conflicts with black bears, said Forest Service District Manager Martie Schramm.
Visitors to the camping area, located roughly 44 miles from Seattle, had been getting careless about keeping food in locked, sealed and secured areas, Schramm said. Forest Service employees had been noticing all summer that the bears were getting increasingly used to human food, he said.
“Bears are pretty smart and will do anything they can to get to the high-calorie, high-protein stuff we humans like to eat,” he said.
Schramm said folks from the campground and camping sites were reporting the bears were comfortable with people around and didn’t leave when humans arrived.
Last month, one man reported he was charged by an aggressive bear who could not be scared away, Schramm said. The man left and when he went back the next day to retrieve his tent, it had been destroyed.
“That gave us a heads-up,” Schramm said.
The about three dozen campground sites and dispersed camping area will be closed for the safety of people and the wild animals in the area through the rest of the summer, he said. It’s expected to reopen in time for some fall camping once food-storage lockers have been installed, he said.