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The DAILY DIRT - The nitty and the gritty of outdoor news

Bear Canisters Required in RMNP

Clever and dangerous bears spur canister requirements for overnight campers

Bears like people food. They like it so much, in fact, that they chew through ropes to bring down bear bags, steal backpacks full of yummy snacks, and maul anything in your campsite that remotely smells of treats.

This rampant bear problem has left rangers in Rocky Mountain National Park with no choice: Beginning on Friday, May 1, all park overnighters will be required to carry a bear canister.

Touting the phrase "A fed bear is a dead bear" on their Web site, the park points out that once a bear develops a palate for human food, the animal often becomes a chronic problem and must be removed. Even the most experienced and well-meaning campers can run into bear trouble—in 2003, two men were seriously injured by a bear accustomed to rummaging for food even though they had stored it correctly.

Bear canisters aren't cheap—they can set you back anywhere from $50 to $80—and can take up precious room in your bag.  They are generally pretty lightweight considering their durability, however, and are available to rent at sporting goods stores near trailheads, like The Warming House in Estes Park, for as little as $4.

Never used a bear canister before? Watch the experts at BACKPACKER keep hungry bears away from their food in this how-to video.

—Morgan Keys

Park requires bear-proof canisters for hikers (AP)

Image credit: Carly & Art

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Slopoke
Apr 19, 2012

Are the odorproof OPSAKs from LOKSAK considered by the RMNP to be sufficient for bearproofing food storage? They are far more efficient than the bulky, space hogging room in a packpack. Plus they've been proven to be effective food and toilitries odor proofing containers.

talkinrocks
Sep 15, 2011

There is NO WAY the Black Bear Population is 200 in RMNP! Sorry Chris W but I think your facts are wrong. Refer to this RMNP study: http://www.nps.gov/romo/parkmgmt/upload/bear-population.pdf
It clearly indicates that the population is 20-25 bears and was updated in 2008. I have read more recent (2011) stats that there were maybe 40 black bears in the park. I highly doubt that there was an increase to 200 bears in 3 years. Bear Canisters are a waste of time and energy for backpackers and the Park Service. But I guess it helps the local economy. If they were very concerned about bear and human safety, they would install bear boxes or food hanging poles in the backcountry.

Chris W
Aug 18, 2011

Last summer I worked at a large wilderness backpacking site in New Mexico, about 1/2 the size of RMNP. Last summer we killed more than 7 bears because a hand-full of backpackers did not follow the bear procedures, i.e. bear bagging. In some summers they have had to kill over a dozen. The local news does not usually pick up on these things, however you can contact state wildlife services for more statistics.
In RMNP alone there are probably over 200 black bears (not 20-25) I share this because National Parks like this really are doing their best, they are not trying to punish anyone. But with the sheer volume of backpackers and campers coming through every summer, there will be incidents, incidents that we should feel obligated to reduce. Even if that means some inconvenience.

Milo
Jul 25, 2011

Wow, seriously? Because a few campers are inconvenienced, you think average Joe tourist who is just parking somewhere should be fined $500 for a candy wrapper in his car? Not only is that incredibly selfish, it is incredibly stupid; those "moronic" tourists bring in a lot of fees that help keep the parks going. Draconian measures like the ones you suggest have no place in a federal park. It is just a bear canister; deal with it.

Teddy
May 01, 2011

The problem is moronic tourists. If rangers would stop slapping them on the wrists for having candy bar wrappers on their dashboards and leaving their coolers unattended, and instead hand out $500 fines, word would spread really quickly about proper food storage.

Craig
Jul 01, 2009

Agreed - a population of 20-25 bearsw- the last injury in 2003 and we find over regulation. I am going on a trip soon - There is an ammo box at the backcountry site I am going to, but I must carry a cannister? I don't want to buy one, so I have to rent. In Yosemite - where there is a real threat, you can rent the cannisters for $4 for 2 weeks and mail them back. I will have to stop in Estes Park to rent - then return back through Estes Park to return - all during business hours - ridiculous. If they are required (and they shouldn't be), they should be available for rent at the permit pick-up points!

-m-
May 11, 2009

I have backpaked many times in locations with many many more bears than you will encounter in RMNP. I responsibly hang my food and have never had a problem. I am disappointed RMNP has retreated to this solution. I choose to live in Estes Park to enjoy the backcountry. Part of that enjoyment comes from the lack of weight I carry in my small pack. They already have ammo boxes in some backcountry sites - like Thunder Lake. If they were so concerned about backpacker safety, why not install ammo boxes at all backcoutry sites instead of forcing a rule on those of us that take part in ultralight backpacking and behave responsibly.

SB
May 05, 2009

So when was the last time RMNP destroyed a bear?

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