Officials are telling campers not to tent camp at the Crescent Creek Campground in Cooper Landing after a series of encounters involving a food-conditioned black bear. They’re asking campground visitors to stick to hard-sided vehicles, like cars and RVs, until the bear is no longer a problem.
The service has received repeated reports of a black bear rifling through campers’ tents for food and walking through the campground, said Forest Service Spokesperson Alan Brown.
Earlier this month, a black bear bit a campground host outside of his trailer. Brown said the victim sustained minor injuries.
"So when you get a bear that starts frequenting an area, our concern is that the bear becomes food conditioned," he said.
Bears are more likely to bother campers they suspect might have food.
“Not only does a tent not provide you with a safe physical barrier, but it doesn't protect against smells like food or anything that a bear thinks is potentially tasty," Brown said.
In this case, Brown said they’re suspecting it’s the same bear exhibiting repeat behavior.
Alaska Wildlife Troopers Lt. Christopher Jaime said troopers will sometimes shoot a bear when it poses an immediate public safety risk. Troopers killed three aggressive black bears in Seward this summer alone.
He said troopers responded when they heard about the bear attacking the campground host. But the bear had left and troopers did not go looking for it.
Brown said they’re hoping the bear loses interest and wanders off.
“Certainly, we hope that it becomes less of a problem so we can kind of rescind the advisory so folks can go back to enjoying the campgrounds," he said. "Because it’s the middle of July and that’s what we need to be doing right now.”
Brown said the service is monitoring the situation and talking regularly with the Wildlife Troopers and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.