Beginning May 1, visitors to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park will need to bring some extra equipment. The National Park Service announced this week that bear-resistant food containers approved by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee will now be required in the area.
Kevin Moore, Acting Chief Ranger for Arches and Canyonlands National Parks said finite resources in the area combined with the region’s popularity brings potential for trouble.
"We do not want a bear to become habituated to humans because then we could have a problem," said Moore.
Though there has not yet been an incident, the National Park Service hopes to prevent any future incidents by limiting the bears’ ability to be access human food. Moore says that when animals, particularly bears, receive food from camps they associate people with food and tend to more frequently interact with visitors.
Moore said bear-resistant containers are "hard-sided," making it difficult for animals to access.
"A lot of the soft type animal-resistant type of containers are not effective," said Moore. "The bears and other animals can still get rewarded with some of those soft-sided containment devices."
Media reports all overnight backcountry visitors in the Upper Salt and Salt-Horse backcountry zones will need to store food, beverages, food containers, garbage and other scented items at least 100 feet from camp in approved containers.
Moore believes that once prospective visitors are educated about the need for bear-resistant containers, the park should not struggle with getting guests to comply with the new requirement. For more information about approved bear-resistant containers, visit the National Park Service website.