Bear encounters shut fashionable tenting space, rangers blame individuals careless with meals

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Bear strikes near popular campground, rangers blame people for being sloppy with food

The US Forest Service (USFS) has closed Middle Fork Campground northeast of North Bend and a stretch of scattered campgrounds between Pratt River Bar and the Garfield Ledges parking lot along Forest Road 56 after reports of “ongoing human conflict with black bears.” were.

A popular campground and riverside campgrounds are closed for the remainder of the summer due to aggressive bear encounters.

The US Forest Service (USFS) has closed Middle Fork Campground northeast of North Bend and a stretch of scattered campgrounds between Pratt River Bar and the Garfield Ledges parking lot along Forest Road 56 after reports of “ongoing human conflict with black bears.” were.

The campground closures also extend along Forest Road 5640 to the Snoqualmie Lake Trailhead.

Campgrounds are always packed during the summer months for their natural beauty – and Seattle is within an hour’s drive.

Bill Sullivan, among those who claimed to have encountered an aggressive black bear, said it happened three weeks ago while camping at one of the scattered sites along the Pratt River.

“I was accused by one,” he told FOX 13 News.

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It came after he accidentally left some meat bones in the campground’s fire pit.

“I noticed that the bear was hanging around. I can see him over there, I said, ‘Get out of here,’ he wasn’t scared,” Sullivan said. “It came up to my ankle and snorted, scared the shit out of me.”

Snoqualmie District ranger Martie Schramm said the USFS closed the area Monday because people had been careless in leaving food on picnic tables and their cars with food inside “unsecured.”

“The bears became too comfortable, especially near the campers,” said Schramm. “It was very easy for the bears to get hold of this food.”

“I think it’s a good thing,” said Robert Orlando, who spent the day at one of the riverside campsites. “A lot of people come here and don’t realize that it’s a wilderness, that it’s wild and primitive and we share space with the people of this area.”

All of the scattered campgrounds along the road now have no camping signs, the entrance to Middle Fork Campground is closed and there are many bear sighting warning signs in the area.

The zone is restricted to tent and car camping only. Hiking, biking, fishing and day use are still allowed.

“I just brought my parents up here for a picnic,” Karyn Higgins said, pointing to the no camping sign. “We could go down this trail instead of walking this trail; I don’t want to see an aggressive bear.”

In the coming weeks, USFS will be installing new bear-proof food containers at all campgrounds in the area. The large all-steel containers have a latch that only humans know how to use.

“I was [here] for nine years, and this is the first time we have had such a closure,” said Schramm.

She says black bears have been unusually active in the forest this year, but didn’t say why.

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“We have a duty to make sure we protect both the public and wildlife, we didn’t want to take any chances,” she said.

Sullivan, who said he has lived and camped in the area for decades, has chosen to stay in his van since his bear encounter.

“I’m only sleeping in my van because after I’ve been charged – man, that scares me!”