Rules that would have required Smith River floaters to purchase or rent bear-proof coolers or portable electric fences were roundly criticized by the Montana Parks and Recreation Board at its meeting on Wednesday. As proposed by State Parks staff, the new rules would have started this year. But the board thought the rules may not address the possibility that bear problems are being caused by other factors, like people disposing of things like cooking grease in campfire pits. So, the board directed its advisory council to mull the issue and get back to them with revised recommendations. The problem is that the parks and rec board won’t meet again until March, just days before floaters are notified of whether or not they won a permit in the annual lottery. So notifying floaters of any changes, or allowing the parks staff to implement changes, will be constricted. The recommendations were prompted by several black bear raids at campsites over the last two years resulting in the shooting of eight bears that had become habituated to human food.
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