Big Bend National Park extends trail closure to campsites due to bear encounters

Big Bend National Park Extends Temporary Closure to Chisos Backcountry Campsites Big Bend National Park is closing additional backcountry campsites following bear encounters by campers in a variety of campsites across the park’s High Chisos Trail network. The closure includes all High Chisos backcountry designated campsites including but not limited to those in Boot Canyon, and along the South Rim. The Blue Creek and Juniper Canyon camping zones are also included in the restriction. These restrictions follow last week’s temporary closure of Laguna Meadow hike-in campsites and Lost Mine Trail. Day-hiking of High Chisos trails other than Lost Mine is not affected at this time. Permits for High Chisos campsites will not be issued beginning October 18. The restriction will continue until further notice. Preferred bear habitat in the park is limited to the very small and isolated Chisos Mountains and associated woodlands. Although park biologists estimate the current bear population at only 25 – 30 animals, this may represent near-record numbers. The Chisos Mountains area is also the park’s most popular hiking and backpacking area. Recent rains have resulted in localities with abundant pine and oak nut production. Bears feed heavily during the fall to prepare for their winter denning period. Bears can be particularly territorial during this period and their interest in non-natural foods of human origin can increase. According to Superintendent Cindy Ott-Jones, “Bears are an important Big Bend resource, and visitors particularly enjoy the opportunity to see them. However, during this period of the year, the added presence of camper food and cooking aromas can present conflicts we want to avoid, for the sake of both our backpackers and the bear population.” Alternative areas for camping throughout the park remain open to the public for normal use, including the three developed campgrounds.

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