Elizabeth Burns Killed by Falling Tree After Teens at Campsite Hang “Bear Bags” on the Tree

Wyoming rescuers and Teton County Sheriff responded to a rescue call by helicopter after a 75-foot tree fell and struck a Lake Forest High School student about 2:45 p.m. Monday. The teen was killed as she was kneeling and involved in camp chores about 66 feet from the base of the tree. The teen has been identified as Elizabeth Burns, a student at Lake Forest High School. Elizabeth Burns was knocked unconscious and never regained consciousness. She was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency rescue crews who flew in on a helicopter in an attempt to rescue her.

Elizabeth Burns and a group of about 12 teens spent the morning in the Teton Wilderness before stopping to set up camp about four miles east of the Turpin Meadow trailhead. The teens had hung “bear bags” on the tree. “Bear Bags” are containers filled with campers’ food that are kept out of reach of hungry bears, who would eat the food if the could reach the containers.


Some national parks and national forests require backcountry visitors to carry approved food storage containers. Backpackers who do not comply with the requirement, may face fines, property impoundment, or eviction from the wilderness. Rangers may stop hikers and require them to produce their containers for inspection. Bear canisters are often hard containers that bears are unable to open. The bear bag method involves using a rope to hang the bag high enough in the air so that it is out of reach of the bears. In Hosemite National Park, bear bagging, also known as Counterbalance Food Hangs has been found to be ineffective and has been banned.

See Yosemite National Park …
Bears and Food Storage from the U.S. National Park Service


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