- Associated Press - Monday, July 31, 2017

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Green Mountain National Forest officials are warning hikers and campers to safely store all food and keep campsites clean following an increase in encounters with bears.

A forest spokesman says there have been numerous cases of bears looking for food recently, and in one case, a bear entered a tent.

“It is vital that people recreating on the Forest keep a clean campsite to ensure that bears and other animals don’t forage for your food,” said Ethan Ready, a spokesman for the forest, which has started posting alert notices at trailheads and other developed campsites.

Campers, hikers and other visitors are urged to safely store all food, including drinks, condiments like ketchup, and empty food wrappers in bear-resistant units, such as vehicles and car trunks. Campers are urged not to sleep in clothes worn while cooking or handling fish and game.

Backcountry campers are advised to hang their food bag at least 10 feet off the ground and 5 feet out from a tree limb that could support a bear. It’s also recommended for campers in the backcountry to place sleeping tents at least 100 yards from food storage and cooking areas.

“Bears are meant to be wild, and feeding them creates negative consequences for them,” Ready said Friday. “Bears that get too used to people may eventually have to be killed to ensure your safety.”

Bear sightings or damage caused by bears should be reported to the nearest Vermont Fish & Wildlife office or a local Vermont state game warden, the forest service said.

The latest bear activity follows a number of bear-human encounters in northern New England this past spring.

Conflicts are common in May, June and July, when bears have come out of hibernation and are hungry.

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