The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has reopened campsites and lean-tos in the Lake Colden area in the High Peaks of the Adirondack Park, after a black bear that DEC says had “a documented escalation of the bear’s aggressive behavior since 2018” was euthanized.
Camping in the area was temporarily closed after numerous incidents with what are believed to have been the same bear over the past several weeks, according to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.
While bear interactions can happen on the trails, conflicts are most often associated with backcountry camping.
In June, black bear movement increases as the breeding season begins and yearling (one-year-old) bears disperse to find their own space. Inevitably some of these bears, particularly yearlings, wander through places these animals would not normally inhabit, like suburban or urban neighborhoods.
Bears have an acute sense of smell and may attempt to consume anything they perceive as edible, including improperly stored garbage, birdseed, livestock, pet food, and barbecue grill grease traps.
Once a bear has discovered a food source, it may return or seek similar foods at neighboring properties, learning bad behavior that can damage human property and may lead to the death of the bear.
Follow the tips below to reduce human-bear interactions:
Do not feed bears intentionally. Feeding bears intentionally is illegal and a ticket-able offense. Bears that obtain food from humans will continue to seek food from humans and become nuisance bears, which can pose a threat to humans and, as in the most recent case near Lake Colden, also the bear.
Campers and visitors should follow the following guidance to reduce potential bear conflicts:
- Keep campsites and lean-tos as clean as possible;
- Clean up after all meals immediately. Keep grills, pots, pans, cooking utensils, and wash basins clean when not in use;
- Leave coolers and food inside car trunks or truck cabs;
- Store food and coolers in food lockers when available;
- NEVER keep food, coolers, or scented items in tents when camping. Store toiletries securely with coolers and food;
- Do not put grease, garbage, plastic diapers, cans, bottles, or other refuse in the fireplace; and
- Dispose of garbage in the campground’s dumpsters every evening.
Visitors to the backcountry are encouraged to:
- Pack a minimal amount of food. Use lightweight and dehydrated foods. Plan all meals to avoid leftovers;
- Use bear-resistant food canisters, which are required in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness of the Adirondack Park;
- Cook and eat before dark and cook away from campsites;
- Avoid spills and drippings while cooking and do not pour grease into fire pits; and
- Never leave food unattended.
If you encounter a bear:
- Don’t panic. Most bears are as afraid of people as people are of bears;
- Never approach, surround, or corner a bear;
- Back away slowly-do not run;
- Do not throw backpacks or food at bears. If bears are rewarded with food, they will continue to seek food from people; and
- 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.
When to report a nuisance bear:
- When a nuisance bear presents an immediate danger to public safety, call 911;
- If a bear is damaging property or is reluctant to leave the area, but the situation is not an emergency, call the regional wildlife office during business hours, or call the DEC Law Enforcement Dispatch Center at 1-844-DEC-ECOs (1-844-332-3267); and
- If bear cubs are known to be orphaned in the spring or summer (before July), call DEC. After that time, cubs generally survive on their own.
Photo of black bear provided by DEC.