Getting too close to feeding bears may land three men in prison, Alaska officials say

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Three men could end up in prison after officials said they left a viewing platform to get closer to feeding brown bears.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged three men Thursday after they were accused of going within yards of brown bears at Katmai National Park.

The men were visiting the national park in August 2018 from New Mexico and another part of Alaska. Officials said the park visitors left a designated viewing platform and went into the Brooks River near Brooks Falls, an area known for its bear activity.

“The three men created a hazardous condition as brown bears were feeding on the falls and in the Brooks River just below the falls,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release. “As they waded into the Brooks River the three men came within 50 yards of the brown bears.”

The three were charged with “creating a hazardous condition in a closed area” and getting within 50 yards of brown bears. They could spend up to six months in prison if they are convicted, officials said.

The fish in the Brooks River are a source of food for the thousands of bears that live in Katmai National Park. At least 2,200 brown bears roam the park, according to the National Park Service.

“The sheer number of bears, their movements, and behaviors influence most activities at Brooks Camp,” the National Park Service said. “A splashing fish sounds like food to a bear. Bears will often move in your direction to investigate a fish on a line.”

All tourists at Katmai National Park must keep at least 50 yards between them and a bear.

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