The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) has closed the Keyhole Falls hot springs trail and surrounding area indefinitely.

The trail, located at kilometre 42 at the Upper Lillooet Forrest Service Road has been closed as a public safety measure due to the presence of at least four aggressive bears in the hot springs area. The bears that have been witnessed acting aggressively are black bears, however officials know that there are a number of grizzlies in the general area, although they can’t confirm if they are near the hot springs.

In a statement the provincial agency says that poor practices by users, food and garbage frequently left at the hot springs has taught bears to obtain food from humans. The bears now directly associate food with people, are behaving aggressively, and are obtaining food from tents, and backpacks. Negative behaviour is also being passed down to cubs.

Alistair McCrone, Recreation Officer with FLNRO says its the second year in a row they have had to close the trail. McCrone says normally they wouldn’t react quite so quickly about closing a trail and try and avoid facility closures; “because this situation has been ongoing for several years and its escalating, we felt we had to take action immediately, given the reports we’re having about the bears behaviour”.

Previous closures of the trail have been ignored and officials says that if the public does not adhere to the current closure they may remove the hot springs bathing tubs. “We’re not going to let the situation continue to the point where there’s injuries or an attack of some sort” says McCrone.

FLNRO is currently working on a plan to increase the number of Conservation Officers, Natural Resource Officers and staff that can patrol the hot springs and the general area to make sure the public is abiding by the closure. Failure to do so could result in a fine of up to $2,000 under Section 59 of the Land Act.

To date, there are no reports of bears being euthanized or removed from the area, and no members of the public have been attacked. However there have been some “very close calls” according to McCrone where bears have pushed people away from their food.

McCrone wants people to stay out of the area for their own safety; “its a very, very concerning situation, the bears are acting very aggressively and I think there is a high likelihood of an attack if people do not stay out of the area.”


Filed under: BC Parks, Bears, Keyhole Hot Springs, Pemberton, Trails, Whistler