Bears are the vagabond mooches of the wilderness, always sniffing at opportunities to invite themselves over for some human grub. Other times, bears exert theirsense of entitlement by simply taking the food, all the while thumbing their large and powerful noses at modern decorum. How can you stop this roving band of scofflaws from snatching your snacks? Read on for tips on erecting a bear force-field.
Secure Food In Vehicles
Bears are crafty animals. They also tend to be very hungry. Combining their craftiness and hunger, bears have proven adept at pillaging cars and trailers in the unending quest for food. They also consider it an invitation when they happen upon a car with food sitting out in plain view in the backseat. So while it’s a good first move on your part to keep food in your car, it’s not enough to just drop it inside and shut the doors. Your trunk should be the main storage compartment for any and all food that you bring on your trip. If your gear crowds out your food and you have no choice but to stash the num-nums inside the cabin, make sure to place a covering over it such as blankets, towels, or plastic tarping. As a final precaution, close the vents inside the vehicle and keep the doors locked.
Pitch Tents Far From Food
Imagine this: You’re ready to catch some ZZZ’s on your inflatable mattress behind the impenetrable safety of your tent’s zipper. The food is airtight in your car and you have no worries about bears jimmying their way inside for a snack. All good, right? Not so fast: The next move should be to pitch your site away from the food source. Because if the bears can’t crack your car but they see your tent sitting next to it, they may very well ransack it (or your body) for food. Staying within eyeshot of your vehicle is okay, but not so close that you remain Option #2 for hungry, itinerant bears.
Keep Your Distance From Water
Water sources such as rivers, swimming holes, or waterfalls are popular bear hangouts. The closer you camp to water sources, the greater the risk that bears will sniff you out and invite themselves over for a meal. Map your site to include a general proximity to water, but keep far enough away that you’re not inadvertently turning yourself into bear bait. Taking a small trip through the woods to get to fresh water may be less convenient than parking right next to the source, but it’s much safer in the end.
Dispose Of All Trash
All of the above tips will be for naught if you don’t take care of your trash. Dump trash into waste receptacles when available, and camp far enough away from bins and Dumpsters to keep out of bear radar just as you would with a water source. Alas, if receptacles are not an option, you’ll be responsible for ridding the trash by other means. Some people prefer to burn their trash every night in controlled fires. This can be a good choice if you maintain sufficient space between the fire and your tent to avoid association with the faint whiff of food that may linger after the fire has been put out. Other campers pack their trash into bags and store them in their vehicles. This option requires extra diligence in tightly securing your car as much as possible lest it become a odorous bear buffet.
Cook Only When Necessary
As hinted above, bears have good snouts that can pick up scents from miles away. Cooking releases a smoke cloud rich in aroma that can perk up a bear’s nose and lure them to your camp, making for an awkward introduction as you wet your pants and run screaming through the woods (which is a bad way to deal with bears, by the way). If you must cook, try to do so sparingly, and as with many of the tips on this list, do so removed from where you sleep. Roasting food in the same area as your tent is akin to staking a sign that screams FRESH HUMANS INSIDE.