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Tent camping banned at 3 sites near Yellowstone

/ Source: The Associated Press

Gallatin National Forest managers, on recommendations of grizzly bear experts, have banned tent camping at three campgrounds near Yellowstone National Park, including one where a Michigan man was mauled to death last July.

The requirement for hard-sided recreational vehicles only is in effect for the Soda Butte, Colter and Chief Joseph campgrounds just east of Cooke City because bears frequent those areas, forest officials said Wednesday.

Following the mauling death of Kevin Kammer, 48, of Grand Rapids, Mich., and an attack on two others at the Soda Butte campground last July 28, forest supervisors for the six national forests in the Yellowstone region asked grizzly bear experts to recommend how to manage campgrounds in the area.

The requirement for hard-sided recreational vehicle camping at the three campgrounds is in effect this summer while managers consider a long-range strategy, forest spokeswoman Marna Daley said. The experts also will review and make recommendations for other campgrounds in the area.

The forest is allowing hard-sided vehicles made of metal or strong composite plastic to be used at the three campgrounds. Truck-box campers that have a 4-foot high hard side, in addition to a raised upper section, are permissible, but tents and pop-up campers are excluded, as is camping without a shelter.

Soft-sided and tent camping opportunities will continue in other areas around Cooke City because of a lesser concentration of people and bears in those areas.

The grizzly bear involved in last summer's mauling was captured and euthanized. Her three cubs were taken to a zoo in Billings, but ZooMontana recent lost its accreditation. The bears have been taken to a facility in Buffalo, N.Y., for up to four months while an enclosure can be built for them at Salt Lake City's Hogle Zoo.