How to avoid bears

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Learn how to avoid unwanted encounters with bears when you’re out camping or hiking.
January 22, 2018 10:51 AM

Questions on how to avoid bears at the campsite are among the most popular online camping searches. Happily, keeping them away from your camp only requires following a few simple rules.

Bear boxes are your best friend
The number one rule is to keep food, drinks and anything else with any kind of odor tucked inside a bear box. What’s that? It’s a hard-sided container that all national parks located in bear areas will have for you. The smells stay inside the bin so the bears stay outside the camp.

So what goes in them? Food is easy to remember. The savory smells that keep your family coming back to the grill will also tempt the bears. However, an unopened can of soda will do the same thing. As soon as that fuzzy forest king crushes a can, he’ll taste the sugary treat inside––and remember where he found it. Toiletries like toothpaste and cologne have the same effect. To keep your family and fellow campers safe, put anything you’re questioning in the bear box. And don’t be afraid to ask your camp hosts if you’re not sure––that’s why they’re there.

Cleanliness Is essential
Clean-up is especially important for your safety. Pots, pans, and plates need to be cleaned as soon as you’re done with them. All the extra food you scrape off and throw away goes into the dumpster, not the campfire. Whatever doesn’t burn completely could become a midnight snack when you’re tucked in tight in your tent.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have a classic campfire snack. Just burn off the ends of those marshmallow skewers before you throw them away––or remember to put them in the bear box.

What to do when you wander off
Bears shouldn’t stop you and your family from exploring, you just have to let them know you’re on your way. Talking, singing or making other noises on the trails will let the animals ahead of you know you’re on your way, especially those protective mama bears. Just like most of us, they’d rather get out of your way than anything else.

Since you can’t always be sure they’ll hear you, consider carrying bear spray. It works like the pepper sprays a lot of us have on our key chains. It may help disorient the animal, giving you time to get away.


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