Camping Is Best Enjoyed While Not Being Attacked By Bears!

As any camper who has even come in close contact with a bear will know, they are almost always hungry, and very persistent. Bears are very intelligent creatures, so given the chance, it wouldn’t take them much time to realize that that cooler and trash bin sitting over by your tent contain food. It is a camper’s responsibility to avoid these potential bear encounters, and there are several ways to do that. Though the prospect of encountering a bear shouldn’t deter campers from making trips into the great outdoors, a little preparation for potential situations doesn’t hurt.


General Tips

Before setting up camp on a certain spot, look out for any signs of bear activity like bear paw-prints or leftover carcasses left by a predator. There is a likelihood that the carcass might attract other scavenging animals or the animal who killed and fed on that carcass itself.

Bear attacks usually happen when they get threatened, when they are looking for food, and the most dangerous of all are mother bears whose cubs are close or wild bears who are used to being around people. There are also times when bears see humans as their prey mainly if those bears are in their young adult stage and have not seen people before.

In a berry-overflowing site, getting far from such a location seeing as bears are also avid feeders of berries. Bears also like to be close to water, dark and thick forest, and rock faces.

Also, as much as possible, hike or camp with friends. The more you are in a group, the less chance of bear encounter could occur. If you brought your kids in your camping activity, always keep an eye on them and never let them wander by themselves.


Bear Pepper Spray

So you may think that only a gun can really protect you in the event of an angry Grizzly coming toward you, well it

Bear Pepper Spray

Bear Pepper Spray

may be time for you to reconsider that opinion.

Nearly one half of people that try to defend themselves with a firearm against a bear attack end up getting injured. Compare that to the under ten percent who sustain injury while defending themselves with bear spray.

So, why is bear spray so effective in protecting humans from bear attacks? The answer is pretty simple, unlike the less effective methods of protecting yourself in the event of an attack; you don’t have to be particularly close or particularly accurate for it to be effective. With a firearm you need pinpoint precision to takedown a bear, and considering the stress of the situation it’s unlikely that even a seasoned hunter will be as accurate as needed.

Bear spray is the best way to protect yourself during an impending attack, because you can use it from a longer range. The spray will travel a minimum of twenty-five feet, creating a fog between you and the bear, that when entered will irritate the eyes, nose, throat and lungs of the bear, stopping it in it’s tracks before it even gets close enough to do any damage.

Bear spray will also reduce fatalities to bears, which probably wouldn’t be your utmost concern when attempting to protect yourself in the event of an attack, but Grizzly Bears are protected as a threatened species. If you shoot a Grizzly and it’s found that you or someone else wasn’t in imminent danger at the time of the shooting you could be subject to some rather severe penalties under the law, including a six month stint in prison or a fine of up to $100,000.

Keep in mind that bears are very rarely out hunting for humans. Most bear attacks can be avoided by educating yourself and by following all the proper precautions; bears should never be approached or taunted, food should never be left out at a campsite, bears should never be fed and garbage should be disposed of in a proper and timely manner.

Bears should always be respected and treated with caution, but when left alone will usually leave humans alone.

No method of defense will ever be one hundred percent effective, but studies show and experts agree that the absolute best way to protect yourself in the event of a bear attack is by using a bear spray repellent.

When camping, it’s never a bad idea to bring along a few cans of bear spray, especially if there are multiple campers. Always keep a can and a flashlight within your reach in your tent in the event of a nighttime attack. You can purchase a holster with your bear spray for a few extra dollars that can be strapped to your belt or fastened to the shoulder strap of your pack, this is extremely important. If an attack occurs it will most likely happen very fast, your bear spray needs to be within your reach for the best chance of halting the attack. If a situation were to occur, and you had to waste time removing your pack to hunt for the bear spray, you and your fellow campers would run the risk of being seriously injured before you could come to the rescue.

It’s particularly advisable to carry bear spray in any situation where an encounter may occur, but in the not too distant future visitors of all national forests in grizzly bear country may be required to carry bear spray due to that fact that it’s the most effective method of protection in reducing or eliminating injuries to humans and bears alike.


Food Safety

If you plan on venturing into the wilderness on a camping or hiking trip, you need to be prepared to deal with potentially dangerous wildlife. Bears in particular need to be respected and avoided. One of the easiest ways to avoid bears is to be careful with storing and preparing food.


Choosing the Safest Camping Food

Strong smelling food like tuna or garlic can attract bears easiest. When you choose which foods to pack, try to avoid foods that have strong odors. Canned or dried food is a much better choice. Not only do these types of food last longer, but they give off fewer odors too. Individual packaged food is better than larger packages that have to be manually resealed.


Safely Storing Your Camping Food

One mistake many campers make is not taking adequate precautions for storing food. All too often food is stored

Storing Your Camp Food

Storing Your Camp Food

either in the same tent you sleep in or in a nearby cooler. This can be a very bad idea. You are essentially drawing the bears right to wear you are vulnerably sleeping.

Your food should be stored a good distance away from your tent (at least 100 meters). To prevent food odors from blowing through your campsite, your food storage location should also be downwind from your campsite. When picking a location to store food, think of how close to your campsite you would be comfortable having bears. Obviously that is not very close at all.

For actual food storage, you have a few choices. There are bear proof containers available in a variety of sizes. These bear proof storage lockers make it nearly impossible for bears to get at your food. It might not be practical to carry one of these durable containers to camp though.

The more traditional method for camping food storage is to hang your food up in a tree in an airtight bag. Since bears do have some tree climbing capabilities, it is best to hang the food at least 5 meters above ground and at least 4 feet away from the trunk of the tree. A bear could easily reach a bag if it is too low or too close to the trunk of the tree. This is not the most secure method because using too small a branch makes it possible for a bear to break the branch and using too large a branch makes it possible for a bear to climb out to your bag. Bears can also chew through ropes holding bags up in trees. So if you plan on hanging your food, counterbalance the rope with a second bag. Then use a long stick to retrieve tour bags afterwards. Or you can suspend the food bag between two trees. Some camps have existing ropes or poles setup to use instead of hanging food from branches.

As a last resort, you could also store your food in the trunk of your vehicle. This should be avoided though, as vehicles are not airtight and odors could leak out. This could lead to a bear scratching up your vehicle to get at your food. Bears with previous human contact may recognize coolers or other food containers. So don’t just put food easily in sight in the front seat of your vehicle.

As your garbage may also have food odors, it is recommended that you also safely store your garbage with your food supply. Other fragrant items such as soap, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant and perfume should be stored with food too. If any of your clothes smell like food, be on the safe side and store these garments with your food. Ensure that no extra snacks are still in your daypack when you go to sleep. Tampons, napkins and toilet paper can also lure bears if not stored properly.


Safely Cooking Food While Camping

Another mistake campers make is to cook food in the middle of the campsite. This will leave traces of food odors throughout your camping area. Assume that bears will come investigate your cooking area and position it away from your tent with your food supply.

While you are cooking, try to keep the area well ventilated. If you are inside a tent, open the flap to air out some of the odors. You don’t want these areas still strongly smelling like food when you go to sleep. Do not cook in the tent you plan on sleeping in! Covering any frying food prevents excess odors too. When you are done frying food, completely burn any excess grease and oil.

Many people like to go fishing while they camp. If you are one of these people, don’t clean your fish near your camp. Ideally, you would gut the fish in the middle of a lake where a bear would not smell the remains. Burying fish remains nearby is a bad idea.

Another tip for camp cooking is to avoid cooking too much food. Don’t cook more than you can eat as leftovers smell more than packaged food.


Cleaning Up To Prevent Bears

Keeping your campsite clean of garbage and food scraps will help keep bears away. Immediately after cooking and eating, you should thoroughly clean all your dishes. Strain the pieces of food from your dishwater and store that

What not to Do - Clean Up

What not to Do – Clean Up

with the rest of your garbage and food. To dispose of the dishwater, dig a shallow pit. Then poor in the dishwater and cover it with ashes or disinfectant. This will stop odors and decomposition.

While some people do not recommend burning any garbage while camping, it may be a good idea for any food scraps and food wrappers. It is better to burn these items leaving a temporary odor rather than keeping the items emitting bear attracting odors.

Always pack out what you pack in. Leaving any garbage behind can turn the campsite into a regular bear hang out.

Overall, be aware of the necessary food storage and cooking precautions while camping. Do everything you can to keep food odors away from your camp. Taking these precautions is the easiest way to prevent a bear encounter.


If The Unthinkable Happens – Keep Cool Bear In Mind The Following:


Whenever a bear approaches and disappears alternatively, consider it as a predator. Bears normally respond to aggressive actions such as yelling or throwing stones or sticks. If they do not, you need to be ready to fight back physically. One good way is to emit a pepper spray as a deterring blast when the bear is more than twenty feet away. This should be sufficient to scare away the beast.


Learn defensive confrontations. This technique is widely circulated for all tourists at the information center of most of the National Parks. Bears usually resort to sudden confrontations whenever they are protecting their cubs, their hideouts or food caches. The reason for attack is the beasts feel threatened. Drop to the ground and play dead. Lie on your back and remain still. Bears tend to move away when they feel the threat is no longer there.


All bears do not have similar behavior. Bear behavior varies with different species. The wildlife information center where you are recreating will provide you with the latest updates on the protective action one needs to take.


If the animal identifies a tourist a human, it will no longer consider the person as a threat. Speak in a low pitched voice while backing away and avoid direct eye contact.

Grizzly bears are mostly found in northwestern states, Canada and Alaska whereas black bears are found in most of North America. It is important to note that bear attacks are rare. Attacks occur because tourists try to take photographs at close range or attempt to feed the animals. Remember conflicts with wildlife are primarily because of inappropriate human behavior.


Enjoy your camping holidays, and please use this guide to make sure you do not end up on bears’ menu – chef’s special!

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