Be careful in bear territory

Humans created a situation in the High Peaks Wilderness that ended Monday with a black bear being euthenized by the state Department of Environmental Conservation because of its “agressive behavior.” This incident shows that no matter how much the DEC tries to educate the public about proper food protocols in the backcountry, bears will continue to die when campers get careless.

When the DEC temporarily closed campsites and lean-tos in the Lake Colden area Sunday — due to the agressive bear looking for food — a press release said the closure would not last long. We knew exactly what that meant. We’ve seen it before. When a hungry bear becomes a threat to humans, it is usually killed. And that’s what happened here. By Monday, the bear was caught and euthenized, and the camping areas were reopened.

Campers can minimize human-bear interactions by following these guidelines:

1. Keep campsites and lean-tos as clean as possible;

2. Clean up after all meals immediately. Keep grills, pots, pans, cooking utensils, and wash basins clean when not in use;

3 Leave coolers and food inside car trunks or truck cabs;

4. Store food and coolers in food lockers when available;

5. Never keep food, coolers, or scented items in tents when camping. Store toiletries securely with coolers and food;

6. Do not put grease, garbage, plastic diapers, cans, bottles, or other refuse in the fireplace; and

7. Dispose of garbage in the campground’s dumpsters every evening.

Visitors to the backcountry are encouraged to:

1. Pack a minimal amount of food. Use lightweight and dehydrated foods. Plan all meals to avoid leftovers;

2. Use bear-resistant food canisters, which are required in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness of the Adirondack Park;

3. Cook and eat before dark and cook away from campsites;

4. Avoid spills and drippings while cooking and do not pour grease into fire pits; and

5. Never leave food unattended.

If you encounter a bear:

1. Don’t panic. Most bears are as afraid of people as people are of bears;

2. Never approach, surround, or corner a bear;

3. Back away slowly. Do not run;

4. Do not throw backpacks or food at bears. If bears are rewarded with food, they will continue to seek food from people; and

5. If feeling threatened by a bear, raise your arms over your head to look bigger and yell loudly at the bear while slowly backing away.