Another bear visit prompts changes at Chapman Campground
Overnight stays only allowed in hard-sided campers; no daytime use
People planning overnight trips at Chapman Campground are now restricted to using hard-sided campers or trailers because the area has become a popular food source for one black bear in particular.
The U.S. Forest Service also announced Wednesday that day-use at Chapman, which is located in the upper Fryingpan River Valley, is prohibited.
The restrictions are expected to remain in place for two weeks, according to Shelly Grail, recreation manager for the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District. Refunds for reservations made during that period can be obtained through recreation.gov, which handles advance campsite bookings for Chapman, she said.
The decision to temporarily ban tents and soft-shells was made after a bear, searching for a meal, damaged and entered an unoccupied soft-sided camper at the campground. It was not an isolated incident at the campground: Last week Forest Service officials met with camp hosts at Chapman to discuss the possibility of closing certain areas of the campground that were seeing bear visits.
The same bear has continued to frequent Chapman because of a failure by certain campers to property secure their food. The bruin has been paying visits in the daylight hours, “which is not unusual for food-conditioned bears,” said a news release from the Forest Service.
“We’ve had to move to these restrictions directly because of a black bear getting food from campsites,” Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Kevin Warner said in a statement. “This is an easily preventable problem if people follow basic food storage practices that prevent bears and other wildlife from having access to food and coolers.”
The White River National Forest requires coolers and all food sources to be secured in a bear box. Warnings are posted throughout the campground, and Chapman hosts have been stressing to campers the importance of securing their food from bears.
Offenders have received warnings and been issued tickets, Grail said.
“We have issued a couple of citations,” she said. “We’ve also had many, many conversations with folks to reiterate the need to properly store their food. We’ve also made phone calls to people after the fact, after their camping trips.
“We will continue to be out in full force up in Chapman, working closely with the host to make sure it is crystal clear what we want to see as far as proper food storage up there.”
The rules are fairly clear about securing food at the Chapman campsites, authorities said.
“The food storage order goes into specific detail, but the basic rules are to keep your food, garbage, coolers and other bear attractants in a hard-sided vehicle, the bear-resistant food lockers provided at many developed sites, or an approved bear-resistant food container unless you are actively preparing food or within 100 feet of it during daytime hours,” Warner said.
A civil deputy kept her job and was mandated to undergo counseling after Aspen police arrested her in July on suspicion of driving under the influence and reckless driving.
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