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Aggressive Bear Accosting Campers Prompts BLM to Close Campground on Taylor Highway

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Officials with the federal Bureau of Land Management have temporarily closed a campground on the Taylor Highway near Chicken due to increasingly aggressive behavior by a black bear that’s developed a taste for campers’ food.

BLM spokesman Craig McCaa says the agency closed the Walker Fork Campground Wednesday after a young black bear tore open several tents there and tried to get into recreational vehicles earlier in the week.
“This one was sufficiently serious that we (decided) we need to close the campground temporarily,” he said Thursday.

McCaa says the bear has been hanging around the campground at milepost 82, about 10 miles east of Chicken, since Sunday. He says BLM staff tried unsuccessfully to repel it by using nonlethal hazing methods.

“Our first preference in these kinds of situations is always some kind of nonlethal measure,” he said.

McCaa says agency officials hope they won’t have to resort to more serious measures, such as capturing and relocating it, or killing it. He says they hope that once there’s no more food there brought by campers, the bear will lose interest.

“With the campground closed, of course, the attraction of food should go away,” he said. “And we’re hoping maybe the bear will move out on its own.”

McCaa says BLM closed the campground over a concern for campers’ safety. And he says agency officials don’t want to keep it closed any longer than is necessary.

“We know it’s the height of the (camping) season,” he said. “We have a lot of travelers going down the Taylor Highway, in and out of Canada. It’s close to the border there, and so we are of course interested in opening that campground as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

McCaa says BLM officials will review that strategy on Monday to determine if it’s succeeded in discouraging the bear. If not, he says they’ll consider other measures.

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.