Food Storage Order issued for the Superior National Forest

On Friday, the Superior National Forest announced a Food Storage Order for the Superior National Forest, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) management area. All visitors will need to store their food properly. Rangers say the food storage order is the result of increases in human-bear interactions with negative outcomes.

Officials say the rise in interactions is the result of a number of factors.

"We finalized a new bear action plan this year which calls for more systematic reporting, so we probably have more reports being submitted," Superior National Forest Wildlife Biologist Cheron Ferland said in a press release. "But this by itself doesn’t account for the increase. It’s also because there are more visitors on the landscape and the fact that we are in an extreme drought, which has led to a poor berry crop."

The Forest Service has asked the public and employees to report any and all bear interactions. The reports include bears at campsites, digging in dumpsters at campgrounds or other facilities, and stealing backpacks. Forest officials also point out that not all reports of interactions with bears are negative or a cause for alarm. Reports may also include general bear sightings to help biologists better understand bear travel patterns in the Forest.

“This is bear-country, people are going to see black bears. They live here. That’s not concerning to me, but bears at dumpsters, lingering at campsites and stealing packs is. Once they get a reward, or food, they will keep doing whatever it takes to get that reward again,” Ferland said in the release.

If a bear becomes a nuisance and continues interacting with people, the bear could be killed. This is why the Forest Service issued the Food Storage Order, they do not want it to get to that point.

The Forest Service says there have been several bear sightings including on Rose Lake, Duncan Lake and Daniel Lake on the Gunflint Ranger District; the Moose Lake Chain and several campgrounds including Birch Lake, Fall Lake and Fenske Lake on the Kawishiwi Ranger District; and Agnes Lake on the La Croix District.

Proper food storage can be done in two ways:

  • Using a bear canister or bear-resistant container and placing it 50 feet away from your tent on the ground (preferred method)
  • Hanging your food pack at least 12 feet above the ground at all points, six feet horizontally from any pole or limb and four feet vertically from any pole or limb. Please be mindful of the weight of your pack while hanging it to avoid breaking branches and damaging live trees.

Visitors should also make sure anything with a scent is properly stored. This includes toothpaste, wrappers, lip balm, soap, lotions.

If you have questions about bear resistant food storage, please call the Ranger District closest to you or visit the Forest Service’s website.