Posted at: 07/03/2013 9:12 PM
Updated at: 07/04/2013 1:50 AM
Sand Island, one of the 21 islands comprising northern Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, is now closed to all visitor use due to black bear activity.
The closure is temporary, but will continue as needed until park rangers are confident that the bear or bears are likely to stay away from campsites, boats, and other places where they've been getting into human food.
After several bear incidents where one or more bears entered campsites, damaged property, and successfully found human food, park staff closed Sand Island to overnight use on July 1.
Rangers successfully rerouted all camping parties to campsites on other islands. Day use was still permitted, however. Nonetheless, on July 3 a bear climbed at least twice onto a boat that was beached at Lighthouse Bay and successfully removed sausages and other food from a cooler. While the bear has not acted aggressively toward humans, and does run away when frightened, he or she keeps coming back.
“The late spring means that bears probably can’t find much to eat right now on the islands, making human food really tempting,” said Apostle Islands National Lakeshore superintendent Bob Krumenaker.
“It’s absolutely critical that visitors to the islands be diligent about making sure that no food is left unattended – even on boats. We don’t want to have to close any more islands, but this is a safety issue. It’s a good reminder that we are guests in the bears’ home – not the other way around.”
NPS staff will monitor bear activity on Sand Island, and will step up deterrence action in hopes of teaching the bear(s) to stay away from areas frequented by people.
The closure will be re-evaluated at least weekly.