September 22, 2008
Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott is pleased to announce that a shipment of 52 bear-proof food storage boxes has been delivered to the park, thanks to financial support from the Grand Teton National Park Foundation (GTNPF) and the Grand Teton Lodge Company (GTLC). Durable bear-proof food storage boxes provide a convenient method of securing human foods away from the reach of bears. Although a few boxes were already stationed at some picnic sites and campgrounds throughout the park, obtaining additional boxes has become a high priority of the park’s bear management program.
The GTNPF — a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting Grand Teton National Park by raising funds for special programs and projects — began a focused campaign in 2008 to secure money for the purchase of food storage boxes in an effort to reduce bear-human conflicts. The GTLC — an authorized park concessioner — joined in the endeavor and supplied additional funding through a campground improvement program required under their current contract. Other funding was supplied by the National Park Service through concessioner franchise fees.
Bear-proof food storage boxes cost $1,100 each. The GTLC committed approximately $20,000 in funding for 2008 to place bear boxes in high priority sites. Franchise fees will provide an additional $25,000/year for the next four years. GTNPF donors have provided funding for 21 boxes to date, with the promise of additional donations in the future. The generosity of individual GTNPF donors will be acknowledged though the placement of donor recognition plaques on the boxes.
More than 3.5 million visitors come to Grand Teton National Park each year, most during the summer months, and thousands of them picnic or stay overnight at one of the park’s 916 campsites. Proper food storage is vital to prevent bears from becoming “human food-conditioned” while they search for available food sources throughout the park; however, nearly 85% of the park’s front country campsites lack these sturdy containers. The park has identified approximately 850 front country sites for bear-proof food storage box installation. This first shipment of boxes will be placed at the String Lake picnic area and in the Colter Bay tent village and campground.
Since 2006, park rangers have documented almost daily violations of food storage regulations by careless or uninformed visitors. Although overall compliance with food storage regulations is high, it only takes one incident of a bear obtaining food for them to get food-conditioned and become a potential nuisance bear. Out of concern for public safety, nuisance bears are often removed from the park, and in serious cases, nuisance bears are euthanized. By being widely available for visitors to use, bear proof food storage boxes will help prevent bears from becoming food-conditioned.