Monday, July 13, 2015

WMNF Bear Patrol: Week Seven

Sunday (6/28) through Wednesday (7/1) we got rained out again and found it suitable to make some signs at the office for a couple hours and then return home to work on portfolio stuff. We had to cut and laminate about 300 picnic table signs that we had previously re-worded. We also added the max fine amount of $5,000 to encourage people to properly store their food. 

Thursday (7/2) was the start of our holiday patrol. We started a little later (0930 hrs) and stayed out until 1800 hrs so we could be around for eating hours and to be taunted with the good smelling food from the grills. We started at the Saco end at White Ledge campground where a bear has been seen on the White Ledge trail just behind the camp but not within the camp itself, which is a good sign that the bear is keeping to its natural behavior. We followed up on the AMC trail crew at Ennis field and they actually had a large bear hang and bear box in which they contained all their cooking equipment. They seem to have learned their lesson. 

Friday (7/3) we made priority on the Kanc as all previous incidents of the season happened here. Hancock was our first stop followed by Big Rock, Passaconway, Jigger Johnson, Covered Bridge, and Blackberry Crossing. Big Rock was the only campground not full but everyone was moving in for the holiday weekend. There were many food storage violations so it was a lot for us to handle on our own and we couldn't have FPOs/LEOs handing out that many citations on the holiday so we did our best educating everyone. The problem sites were not only those unoccupied but the ones who had food tents, large groups of people, more than just a few coolers, and those with cultural differences; commonly having big feasts and celebrations. Blackberry Crossing mentioned that the Wednesday previous (6/24) there had been a bear incident where a campsite had just been cooking dinner in the evening (burgers, ribs) and the neighboring campsite mentioned to the hosts that he heard a large animal, most likely a bear, tapping on the grill and knocking it over because of the odors. We filed an incident report with as much information as we could gather and left it with our supervisor. 

Saturday (7/4) we visited the Andro district in the morning to touch base with the campers that had filled in over night. Sugarloaf I and II were almost full and the host seem to have a good handle on food storage. There were some large gatherings occupying multiply sites and we made note of that to the law enforcement officer on the Andro. We stopped in to Andro HQ to see Justin and debrief. We followed up with Russell Pond and Hancock where we spent about 3 hrs at each trying to make everyone aware of bear country and food storage. That night we were out until 1900 hrs and it was totally necessary in order to make as much contact as possible on the busy holiday weekend. 

Sunday (7/5) we made sure all along the Kanc that there were no reports of bear sightings from the night before. Then we started at the eastern side of the Kanc at Covered Bridge and Blackberry Crossing. No bears sighting or incidents were reported. There have been some racoons and a fox in Covered Bridge campground. We rated it as a successful holiday weekend. Usually the 4th of July is when most incidents occur because food storage is so poor, but we were grateful that people took the time to listen to our bear safety spiel and ask as many questions as they did. 

No comments: