Because black bears have approached hikers and eaten human food there recently, the Enchanted Valley area of Olympic National Park has been close to camping for 30 days, the park announced on April 24.

“Bears that eat human food come to consider people as a food source, and are extremely dangerous,” said Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. “Sadly, bears have gotten into and consumed human food this spring in Enchanted Valley and we have closed the area to camping effective immediately.”

Enchanted Valley is known for its stunning scenery, as well as being occupied by black bears. The area is 13.5 miles from the Graves Creek Trailhead in the Quinault Rain Forest.

Melissa Ferrell of Federal Way, Wash., said in an April 11 trip report filed on the Washington Trails Association website that her party located “was an enormous black bear who wandered around the valley. He basically hung around the whole time we were there. He was no threat but was definitely a little dependent on human food. We found a huge trail of pasta and trash that others had left behind. We cleaned up most of it but it was very sad.”

Drax Plunkett posted a photo of a black bear he estimated to be 400 pounds in another trip report filed on the Washington Trails Association website. Plunkett wrote the bear “appeared quite habituated to human presence.”

The Enchanted Valley area is closed to all camping between Pyrites Creek and the O’Neill Pass trail junction. The six-mile section of trail between these two locations remains open for hiking, but there is no camping above Pyrites Creek or below the O’Neill Pass trail junction.

Hikers walking this section of trail are reminded to stay at least 50 yards away from wildlife and to keep food, trash and all scented items properly stored and out of reach of wildlife at all times.

Rangers and wildlife biologists will continue to monitor the situation in the coming weeks. When the area re-opens, bear cans will be required for food storage during all overnight stays. Proper food storage is considered vital to maintaining safe distances between bears and humans.

For information about food storage and wildlife: Click Here.

For information about safely coexisting with black bears: Click Here.