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Food storage restrictions ordered for some BWCA lakes to prevent bear encounters

Wilderness officials say the order is "necessary to reduce human and bear conflicts due to improperly stored food."
Credit: KARE
Boundary Waters stock image

ELY, Minn. — Officials in the Superior National Forest are implementing a food storage order to a handful of BWCA lakes to lessen the likelihood of negative encounters between visitors and bears.

While the order doesn't refer to specific incidents, an accompanying release from the Superior National Forest says issuing it is "necessary to reduce human and bear conflicts due to improperly stored food. Implementation of this food storage order will serve to increase protection for wild bears and visitors on particular lakes of the Gunflint District of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness management area."

The order impacts campers and visitors to the following lakes:

  • Alpine Lake
  • Jasper Lake
  • Seagull Lake
  • Red Rock Lake
  • Rog Lake

The signed order says visitors on the specified lakes are not allowed to possess or leave any food or garbage unless it is being eaten, prepared or transported, or properly stored. 

"Properly stored" means:

  • Food stored in a bear-resistant container
  • Suspended at least 12 feet clear of the ground at all points, six feet horizontally from any tree limb or pole and four feet vertically from any limb or pole

A bear-resistant container is a lockable container made of "solid, non-pliable material capable of withstanding 200 foot-pounds of energy. When secured and under stress the container can not have any cracks, openings or hinges that would allow a bear to gain entry by biting or pulling with its claws."

Superior National Forest officials say those violating the order could be subject to 6 months in jail or a $5,000 fine. 

For more on co-existing with bears while camping, check out the Superior National Forest website.

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