No Picnics for Bears
When thinking about bear populations in national parks, Yellowstone, Glacier, and Alaskan parks top the list. People might perceive Zion as being at the bottom of the “bear-el”. However, Zion is home to bears, and bear sightings and evidence of bear activity are on the rise, especially in the park’s higher elevations. In fact, a few years ago, a black bear almost found its way into a ranger cabin near Lava Point. Zion Wildlife Program Manager, Janice Stroud-Settles, says that when visitors reach higher elevations where the principal vegetation is made up of aspen and fir trees, there is a possibility of encountering a bear.
To prevent bear-human encounters, Zion is seeking, with your help, to provide bear boxes for food storage at the Lava Point Campground, located at nearly 8,000 feet of elevation along the Kolob Terrace in the northern part of the park. These boxes will be both a safety and educational measure. The boxes will help prevent bears from obtaining human food, which in turn would encourage the bears’ natural inclination to hunt on their own and lessen the chance of the bears becoming more comfortable around humans. The boxes will also send a clear message to park-goers to keep their food inaccessible and not feed wildlife or do anything that would encourage the park’s fauna to search for human food.
Funding for this project will pay for the boxes as well as informational signage on or near the boxes to communicate to visitors that preventing wildlife from accessing human food is the cornerstone of Zion’s strategy for reducing human-wildlife conflicts.