'Assertive' black bear prompts closure of Fowler's Campground near McCloud

Bill Choy
Mount Shasta Herald
A curious bear snoops at a travel trailer at Fowler's Campground in this photo shared by the U.S. Forest Service - Shasta-Trinity National Forest on their Facebook page.

An “assertive” black bear has prompted the closure of Fowler’s Campground near McCloud. 

The U.S. Forest Service's Shasta McCloud Management Unit said the campground is closed until further notice while the black bear continues to roam the vicinity.

Forest Service employees plan to “deep clean” the campground in hopes of removing remnants of food smells and trash to eradicate the temptations that keep the bear coming around. 

How to minimize bear visits while camping

  • Keep a clean campsite by properly disposing of food scraps and garbage at ALL times. 
  • Never leave food or coolers unattended OR out in the open (i.e. on picnic tables). 
  • Do not leave dog food out ever. 
  • Store food and garbage inside a vehicle or camper trailer at all times. 
  • Never store food or any smelly products inside your tent. 

Black bear attacks are rare

Black bear encounters that result in attacks and injury are extremely rare in California, but they have occurred, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. There is no single safety strategy applicable to every encounter, and bear behavior is not always predictable.  According to the CDFW: 

  • Individual bears can display varying levels of tolerance and different temperament. 
  • Prevention is better than confrontation. 
  • Share this information with your children. Make sure they know to tell you if they see a bear in the area. Be Bear Aware. 

What to do if you see a black bear

Wildlife managers and scientists have provided the following tips intended to help the public safe in the event of a black bear encounter, according to the CDFW. 

  • If a bear breaks into your home, do not confront the bear. Most bears will quickly look for an escape route. Move away to a safe place. Do not block exit points. If the bear does not leave, get to a safe place and call 911. 
  • If you encounter a bear in your yard, chances are it will move on if there is nothing for the bear to forage. If there is enough distance between you and the bear, you can encourage the bear to leave by using noisemakers or blowing a whistle. 
  • If you encounter a bear while hiking and it does not see you. Back away slowly, increase your distance. Clap hands or make noise so the bear knows you are there and will move on. 
  • If you encounter a bear on the trail and it sees you. Do not make eye contact. Slowly back away. Do not run. Let the bear know you are not a threat. Give it a way out. 
  • If a bear approaches you, make yourself look bigger by lifting and waving arms. Use noisemakers, or yell at the bear. If small children are present, keep them close to you. 
  • Carry and know how to use bear spray as a deterrent. In the event of a black bear attack, it is usually recommended to fight back. However, each situation is different. Prevention is the key. 

Black bear attacks are rare in California and typically are defensive in nature because the bear is surprised or defending cubs; however, bears accustomed to people may become too bold and act aggressively, the CDFW said.

Female black bears will often send cubs up a tree and leave the area in response to a perceived threat. Do not remain in the area – when you leave, she will come back for her cubs.