Olympic National Park closes Enchanted Valley to camping after bears approach hikers

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK -- Black bears have approached hikers in the Enchanted Valley area, prompting the national park to close that area to campers for the next 30 days, the park announced Friday.

Black bears in Enchanted Valley have acquired and eaten human food, according to recent visitor reports, the park said.

"Bears that eat human food come to consider people as a food source, and are extremely dangerous," said park 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."

The park said several visitors have reported seeing at least one bear consuming human food and trash and others have described seeing bears that appear unafraid of people.

The park said 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, the park said, and to keep food, trash and all scented items properly stored and out of reach of wildlife at all times.

"Enchanted Valley will remain closed to camping for the next 30 days. Rangers and wildlife biologists will continue to monitor the situation in the coming weeks," the park said.