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Food storage lockers installed last year in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore have been inspected and are ready for use again this summer. The 22 animal-proof food storage lockers have already proven popular among campers. The lockers help visitors to properly store food and scented items when camping long distances from their vehicles, and prevent wildlife from raiding these items.
If wildlife, such as raccoons, chipmunks, coyote, and black bear, are successful in acquiring food from campsites, they begin to associate humans with food and become bolder in their efforts to obtain it. These habituated animals will enter campsites if they smell potential food, and may damage tents and coolers. This habituation also increases the risk of injury to both visitors and wildlife. Injuries to wildlife can occur while attempting to obtain food or by ingesting food packaging materials such as aluminum, plastics, or string. National Lakeshore Biologist Sue Jennings notes, "We have not received reports of black bears sightings yet this year; however we have observed sign of bears foraging through the woods. With the cooperation of our visitors, we hope to keep the bears wild so they will search for food in the forests, rather than campgrounds."
At the Platte River Campground, every group site and walk-in sites greater than 200 yards from the parking area have their own locker. Closer walk-in sites share a storage locker with one other site, providing visitors with the option of using the locker or taking their food to their vehicle. The food storage lockers are labeled with corresponding campsite numbers and information on the types of items that should be stored in them. The White Pine Campground has a single locker located near the community fire ring, providing backcountry campers the option to share a locker or hang their food properly. "We have received many positive comments from campers regarding our food storage lockers, and we are pleased to hear that the lockers have accommodated them well," said Superintendent Dusty Shultz. Campers may also store food in their cars when camping in D. H. Day or Platte River Campgrounds. National Lakeshore staff urges campers to keep all food and trash attended unless and until it is placed in a food storage locker, vehicle, or garbage container.
For more information, please contact National Lakeshore Biologist Sue Jennings at 231-326-5135, ext. 422.