June 26, 2012
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) is pleased to announce the installation of 22 animal proof food storage lockers at select locations in the Platte River Campground walk-in and group sites, as well as one in the White Pine Backcountry Campground. The installation began the week of May 21st and will continue throughout the summer as additional lockers are purchased. These lockers will help visitors to properly store their food when they are camped a long distance from their vehicle and prevent area wildlife from successfully obtaining food.
Once wildlife are successful in acquiring food from campsites, animals, including raccoons, chipmunks, coyote, and black bear, may associate humans with food, and become bold in their efforts to obtain food. Habituated animals will enter campsites, day or night, if they smell potential food, often resulting in property damage to tents and coolers. This increases the chance of visitors coming into contact with wildlife and increases the risk of injury to both visitors and wildlife. National Lakeshore Biologist Sue Jennings noted "Injury to wildlife may occur when the animal ingests food packaging materials such as aluminum, plastics, or string. This often leads to mortality from infection or intestinal blockages."
Every group site in the Platte River Campground will have a food storage locker by the end of the summer. Visitors that are in a walk-in site greater than 200 yards from the parking area will have their own locker, while visitors closer than that will have the option of sharing the locker with another site or taking their food to their vehicle. The food storage lockers will be labeled with the corresponding campsite number that they will accommodate. "It is important to us that our visitors have a positive experience here at the National Lakeshore. Food storage lockers will help to accommodate our visitors, so they don't have to take their food back to their vehicles, while preventing wildlife from getting too close for comfort," said Superintendent Dusty Shultz. Campers may store food in their cars when camping in D. H. Day or Platte River Campgrounds.