Big Bend National Park Campgrounds Closed ‘Until Further Notice’ Amid Uptick in Bear Activity

by Lauren Boisvert

Big Bend National Park has closed campgrounds and a trail due to increased bear activity. The Brewster County, Texas National Park recently closed Chisos Basin’s Window Trail due to bears. Now they’ve closed Chisos Basin Campground and Chisos Basin Group Campground to visitors, according to KSAT out of San Antonio.

Park officials released a statement regarding the closures and the uptick in bear activity. “Over the course of the last two weeks,” the statement began, “the bears have moved from the Window Trail into the campground itself, feeding on mesquite beans, a natural food source. Due to the abundance of mesquite beans in the campground, the bears have become territorial and shown signs of aggression. To keep these bears wild and safe, limiting human food sources and bear-human interactions is paramount.”

The closures come in order to keep both the bears and park visitors safe. The statement reported that the campgrounds will be closed to visitors until the bears “move on to other natural food sources.” Officials are waiting until bear activity returns to “normal levels” in the park.

“Right now, the bears are hungry and a bit testy and we’re going to give them the space they need to be wild bears,” said Big Bend Superintendent Bob Krumenaker. The smartest and safest option is not always the most convenient. But, it’s what needs to happen for the bears to stay safe and wild. Otherwise, the park could end up with territorial bear attacks, which would most likely result in euthanizations. That’s the last thing anyone wants in a National Park.

Closures in Big Bend National Park Come On the Backs of Closures in Glacier As Well

Recently, Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska had to close down the Scidmore Cut area of the park to foot traffic. In late July, a bear obtained food from campers in the area, leading to increased bear activity. No injuries or attacks were reported. But, giving a bear access to food, even accidentally, is big trouble for the bear and for other visitors. The bear begins showing signs of habituation, getting familiar with humans, and searching for more food. It will begin to approach hikers and campers without fear, looking for something to eat. This can result in bears getting aggressive when denied, which can lead to attacks and fatalities.

The closure restricts foot traffic in the Scidmore Cut area of the park’s West Arm. This area will be closed to non-vehicle traffic until August 30. Park officials reported, “The goal of this 30-day closure at the Scidmore Cut is to prevent bears from further associating people with food rewards. Because bears travel long distances, camping is not recommended in the entire Scidmore Cut area, both on the West Arm side as well as within Scidmore Bay.”