Enchanted Valley on the west side of Olympic National Park is temporarily closed to camping after reports that bears have approached hikers and eaten human food, the park said in a statement.
When the area reopens to camping, visitors will be required to use bear canisters, thick containers designed to keep food and scented items safe from bears, rodents, raccoons and other animals.
“Bears that eat human food come to consider people as a food source and are extremely dangerous,” said Olympic National Park superintendent Sarah Creachbaum in a statement. “Sadly, bears have gotten into and consumed human food this spring in Enchanted Valley, and we have closed the area to camping.”
The statement says several visitors have reported seeing a bear consuming human food and trash, while others have said they’ve seen “bears that appear unafraid of people.”
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The closed area is a 6-mile stretch between Pyrite Creek and the O’Neill Pass Trail junction. While the area is closed to camping, it remains open to hiking.
The camping closure in Enchanted Valley will last until late this month while rangers and biologists monitor the situation.
The park warns visitors hiking in the area to stay at least 50 yards from wildlife and to properly store scented items.
“We will re-open Enchanted Valley to camping as soon as we are able to do so,” Creachbaum said in the park’s statement. “When it re-opens, the use of bear cans will be required for all overnight use in the area.”
Olympic National Park requires bear canisters in many parts of the park and does not allow visitors to hang bags of foods from trees on the coast. Information on bear canisters and how to use them is on the park website.