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Contact: Barb Maynes, 360-565-3005
Black bears have approached hikers in Enchanted Valley and have acquired and eaten human food, according to recent visitor reports.
"Bears that eat human food come to consider people as a food source, and are extremely dangerous," said Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. "Sadly, bears have gotten into and consumed human food this spring in Enchanted Valley and we have closed the area to camping effective immediately."
Several visitors have reported having seen at least one bear consuming human food and trash and others have described seeing bears that appear unafraid of people.
The Enchanted Valley area is closed to all camping between Pyrites Creek and the O'Neill Pass trail junction.The six-mile section of trail between these two locations remains open for hiking, but there is no camping above Pyrites Creek or below the O'Neill Pass trail junction.
Hikers walking this section of trail are reminded to stay at least 50 yards away from wildlife and to keep food, trash and all scented items properly stored and out of reach of wildlife at all times.
Enchanted Valley will remain closed to camping for the next 30 days. Rangers and wildlife biologists will continue to monitor the situation in the coming weeks.
"We will re-open Enchanted Valley to camping as soon as we are able to do so," said Creachbaum. "When it re-opens, the use of bear cans will be required for all overnight use in the area."
Proper food storage is vital to maintaining safe distances between bears and humans and is required in all park wilderness and frontcountry areas of Olympic. Information about how to keep food and garbage safe from wildlife is available online at https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/wilderness-food-storage.htm
For information about wilderness hiking and camping, including current trail condition reports, people should visit the online Wilderness Trip Planner or stop by the Olympic National Park Wilderness Information Center (WIC).The WIC located at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and may also be reached by calling 360-565-3100.