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Bear activity prompts closure at Oak Island in Apostles

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore will close an Oak Island dock area temporarily following an increase in bear activity, officials announced Wednesday.

Beginning Friday, the dock will be closed to overnight and most day-use. Some campsites on the island will be closed. Two resident bears have been visiting the dock and campsite area, boarded boats and caused minor property damage. According to park officials, no human food has been obtained by the bears yet, and park staff anticipate that hazing will teach the bears to be afraid of humans, and prevent the need to close the entire island. To haze means to make noise around the bears and throw non-harmful things at them, for example.

Park staff will monitor the animals and re-evaluate closure at least weekly. In the past, problem bears have been trapped and moved to the mainland. That practice was rejected because bears either returned or became someone else’s problem, officials said.

Campers using approved Oak Island sites can be dropped off at the dock as long as they depart quickly, officials said. They also ask visitors to keep food secured and to report bear activity to headquarters in Bayfield.

The island is one of 21. Last summer, Sand Island was closed because of a similar situation.

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