Bear sightings close campsites at Dinosaur National Monument

Wildlife • 10 to 12 sightings reported in past two weeks.
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Black bear sightings have prompted rangers to close two backcountry campsites at Dinosaur National Monument.

A bear appears to have taken up residence in an area along Ely Creek, near the Jones Hole Trail, where the park maintains two backcountry campsites, wrote monument spokesman Dan Johnson on Wednesday. There have been 10 to 12 sightings in the past two weeks in the area, about two miles from a fish hatchery.

"In an effort to reduce interactions between people and the bear and to reduce the possibility that the bear will get and become habituated to human food, we have decided to close the campground for the remainder of the season." said monument superintendent Mary Risser.

Monument officials also did not want humans to disrupt the bear's preparation for winter hibernation. "It is important that bears be allowed to feed on wild food sources during late summer and fall to gain the weight they need for the upcoming winter," said Joel Brumm, natural resource manager.

The bear has not behaved aggressively to anyone who reported sightings, Johnson said.

The Jones Hole Trail remains open. Hikers are advised to be alert to the presence of bears and report bear sightings at a visitors center or ranger station.

The Jones Hole river campsites also are open, but these sites are reserved for river rafting groups through September 14.