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Dangers of the Season

From post-fire warnings to bears, watch out

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Ah fall, when the mornings are crisp, the leaves are tinged with color and the lingering wildfires send up billowing clouds of smoke making us gasp for air and pray for a little rain.

As much as we'd like it, the change of seasons doesn't signal an end to wildfires burning across the region, and while fire crews are getting a handle on most of the blazes, officials are reminding the public to pay attention to area closures and restrictions.

Some roads around the Trinity Ridge Fire near Pine and Featherville have been reopened, but officials are warning that they may be forced to close them again if people don't follow the rules.

The roads are open to through traffic only, which means no stopping, no passing Go and no collecting firewood.

Fire officials have seen people not only getting out of their cars, but riding ATVs, going off road and cutting firewood. All those activities are prohibited along with hiking, hunting and fishing. Basically, just keep on driving if you're in one of the closure areas.

This is more than just a request--violating the closure order can carry a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization. Get more info on the exact closure areas online at inciweb.org.

And it's important to be careful even in areas that aren't on fire this fall. This is the time of year when bears are bulking up for hibernation, and the drought and fires have made it even harder for them to find food.

That means your food may be even more tempting. Wildlife managers are reminding people to be aware of their actions in bear county, including securing all food and garbage when camping.

Never store food or personal hygiene products in your tent--keep them in bear-resistant containers or hang them at least 10 feet off the ground and four feet from the nearest tree trunk. Also be sure to secure pet food, don't leave food bowls outside, and avoid filling bird feeders.

Bears that become habituated to humans are often deemed nuisance bears and relocating them doesn't work, so they must be put down. It's best to avoid the problem altogether.

If you do have a problem with an aggressive bear, contact the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

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