Human-bear conflicts near Keystone lead to campsite shutdowns
KEYSTONE, Colorado — In response to escalating human-bear conflicts along Montezuma and Webster Pass Roads near Keystone, the White River National Forest has enacted an emergency closure prohibiting overnight camping in this area. Until further notice, no overnight camping is permitted within ¼ mile of Montezuma Road (County Road 6) or within ¼ mile of Webster Pass Road for the first 1.5 miles to the stream crossing.
Between June 18-26, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Colorado State Patrol received multiple reports of bears in dispersed campsites along Montezuma and Webster Pass Roads. Bears damaged and entered tents in search of food or other attractants, came in close contact with visitors and exhibited emboldened behavior typical of food-conditioned bears.
The Montezuma Road corridor between the communities of Keystone and Montezuma is in the process of being permanently closed to camping. Dispersed camping areas along Montezuma Road are used heavily by recreational campers and also by those illegally occupying the sites as residents. Trash attracts bears that have become habituated to human presence due to food and garbage left at campsites.
Many will travel to the mountains this Fourth of July weekend. Colorado Parks and Wildlife offers these tips for safe camping in Bear Country:
Stash your trash: Use bear-proof containers when available. If they’re full, double bag trash and lock it in your trunk or RV. Never leave trash outside.
Store attractants safely: Store food, beverages and toiletries in air tight containers and lock in your trunk. Many bears have discovered that coolers, bags and boxes are full of food; never leave them in your tent or anywhere a bear could see, smell or reach.
Keep a clean camp: Bears are attracted to odors of all kinds and will investigate anything interesting in hopes of finding food.
Keep a clean tent: Don’t bring anything with an odor into your tent — that includes all food, beverages, scented toiletries, gum, toothpaste, sunscreen, candles and insect repellant. Don’t sleep in the clothes you cooked in; store them with your food.
Lock RVs and vehicles: Close windows and lock your vehicle and RV when you leave your campsite and at night before you go to sleep.
Campground bears: If a bear comes into camp, try to chase it away. Yell, toss small stones in the direction of (not directly at) the bear, bang pots and pans, or blow your car horn, air horn, or whistle. Make sure the bear has an escape route.
For more information contact Ashley Nettles, Dillon Ranger District wildlife biologist at (970) 262-3457.
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