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Black bears close second campground in Kentucky

August 01, 2012 at 07:11 AM

The Associated Press

LONDON, Ky. (AP) — A second campground at Daniel Boone National Forest in eastern Kentucky has been closed after a black bear encounter, officials said this week.

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources officials are trying to move the bears from the campgrounds, which will remain closed until the animals are captured and moved or until it’s determined the bears have moved outside the campgrounds.

Holly Bay Campground at Laurel River Lake was closed Saturday after a bear approached campers and raided a cooler for food. Great Meadows Campground in McCreary County was also closed Saturday after a bear closely approached visitors. Hemlock Grove was temporarily closed Sunday but reopened Monday.

Experts say the drought has dried up the bear’s natural food supply, causing the animals to roam in search of nourishment.

“Due to the drought, this year’s berry crop was lost much earlier than normal in most parts of eastern Kentucky,” said Steven Dobey, bear biologist with the Fish and Wildlife agency. “Berries are a primary important food source in midsummer and without them, bears roam widely in search for food.

Food storage orders are in place at several locations to prevent conflicts between humans and bears.

“The intent of the food storage orders is to promote visitor safety and prevent bears from expecting food handouts from people,” Sandie Kilpatrick, forest biologist with the Daniel Boone National Forest, said in a statement. “Once bears lose their natural fear of people, the chance of negative encounters is increased and puts bears at risk of having to be euthanized.”

Kim Begley told WKYT-TV that she was camping at Holly Bay with her family over the weekend when they saw a baby bear eating from a trash can.

“It was just standing there playing, so we came back and told the campground host,” she said.

Begley said authorities decided to evacuate the campground.

“I don’t like anything that may be bigger than me that can attack me, I guess,” Begley said, so she didn’t mind that her trip was cut short.

She said she’s glad she lives nearby, though, because she had to leave her camper behind.

“All of our food, juice, and you know just everything like that is still back in the campground,” she said on Sunday. “As of right now, we can’t go in and we have to work tomorrow, so we’re going to leave our camper one more night and come back after work, tomorrow, and try and get it.”

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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