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As It Was: Hungry Bears Search for Food at Crater Lake

An Army Corps of Engineers worker at Crater Lake warned in November 1915 that tourists should expect to see lots of bears by spring time.

A Corps watchman at the park, Arthur Mitchell, told the Klamath Falls Evening Herald that the bears showed no fear of humans, roaming among the workers, peeking into cabin windows, and helping themselves to food inside and out.  He said they made little effort to hide, apparently aware they were protected.

Mitchell had learned while working for many years at Yellowstone National Park how bears attract the attention of tourists.  He predicted that as Crater Lake’s bears continued to lose their fear of people, they would rival Yellowstone’s for boldness. 

Mitchell said the bears were ravaging the park’s garbage pits and rustling any kind of food before going into hibernation, and had learned the hotel perched on the lake’s rim was a good place to find scraps of food.

Present-day Crater Lake National Park continues to attract bears, as well as tourists – more than 700,000 people in 2016 alone. The park closed 11 campsites for a time in 2015 because of bear issues.

Source:  "Bears Numerous at Crater Lake." The Evening Herald, 19 Nov. 1915 [Klamath Falls OR] , p. 1. Historic Oregon Newspapers, oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn99063812/1915-11-18/ed-1/seq-1/#date1=1846&index=3&date2=2017&words=18+1915+NOVEMBER&searchType=advanced&sequence=0&lccn=sn99063812&proxdistance=5&rows=20&ortext=&. Accessed 18 July 2017.

Lynda Demsher has been editor of a small-town weekly newspaper, a radio reporter, a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for the Redding Record Searchlight, Redding California. She is a former teacher and contributed to various non-profit organizations in Redding in the realm of public relations, ads, marketing, grant writing and photography.