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Bear Resistant Canister Regulation

Subparagraph 190.13(f)(3)(xiv) of Title 6 of the New York Code, Rule and Regulation (6 NYCRR) (effected August 24, 2005) states that no person "during the period April 1 through November 30, no overnight camper in the Eastern High Peaks Zone shall fail to use bear-resistant canisters for the storage of all food, food containers, garbage, and toiletries."

Bear resistant canister6 NYCRR Paragraph 190.13(b)(2) defines a bear-resistant canister as "a commercially made container constructed of solid, non-pliable material manufactured for the specific purpose of resisting entry by bears."

6 NYCRR Paragraph 190.13(b)(6) defines an overnight camper as "a person who stays or intends to stay in the Eastern High Peaks Zone during the night."

6 NYCRR Paragraph 190.13(b)(4) defines the Eastern High Peaks Zone as "that portion of the High Peaks Wilderness Area located to the east of the ridge line immediately west of the Indian Pass Trail." (See map below)Map showing the zones in the High Peaks Wilderness

Bear Resistant Canisters in the Eastern High Peaks Zone

The purpose of the regulation is to protect people from black bears in the Eastern High Peaks Zone (EHPZ) of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. It also will ensure that individual bears do not become dependent on people for food, thereby jeopardizing human safety and potentially requiring the killing of those bears.

Illustration of bear eating contents of cooler.Beginning in the 1970s, hikers and campers within the EHPZ reported an increasing number of potentially harmful encounters with black bears as bears sought to acquire food from people. The larger number of reported problem bear incidents coincided with an increase in public use of the EHPZ. The DEC received complaints about bears breaking into tents and other shelters, damaging backpacks, and frightening people as bears closely approached to acquire food.

The DEC had attempted to curb these negative behaviors by adopting regulations addressing food and garbage handling by people, and installing cable systems in some areas to allow food supplies to be raised out of a bear's reach. At the same time, DEC officials educated the public about the risks associated with bears, and ways of reducing negative bear behaviors.

Notwithstanding these efforts, problems continued to grow in number and seriousness. In the Summer of 2003, there were 170 reported bear encounters with campers where the bear either destroyed camping equipment, or otherwise obtained food from campers. In at least one instance, a hiker sustained physical injuries during an encounter with a bear that was trying to take the hiker's food bag.

The DEC deemed it necessary to take immediate action to change the behavior of both black bears and people in the EHPZ by adopting measures to break the cycle that causes black bears to learn that people constitute a source of food. Similar regulations are now in place in a number of national parks in the western United States (e.g., Yosemite National Park). Bear resistant canisters are available commercially in a variety of designs and costs.

DEC acknowledges that implementation of this regulation requires overnight campers in the EHPZ to either purchase or rent an acceptable bear resistant canister, however it is imperative that black bear interactions with people be significantly reduced. The only practical means of doing so is to condition bears to learn that they are unable to acquire food from people. Bear resistant canisters are the only practical means of reducing bear/human contact, while retaining the ability of people to enjoy the wilderness character of the EHPZ.

DEC will continue to educate overnight campers in the EHPZ about the importance of following the regulation, and the rationale supporting it. The DEC will also continue efforts to haze, negatively condition and, when necessary, remove bears from the population within the EHPZ.