Camping is a great way to get out in nature, and there's nothing better than spending a few nights under the stars. Bears are increasingly coming into contact with people as they expand their territory and lose their fear of humans. In order for both the bears and campers to coexist safely, it's important that campers take measures to avoid attracting bears to their campsites. One way to do this is by properly bear proofing your campsite. Here are a few tips on how to do that.
- Use government-approved “bear-proof” containers
When choosing bear-proof containers, make sure they have a locking device or latch that bears cannot easily open. These types of containers are usually built also as child proof. If a child cannot open it, usually a bear can't either.
Bear-proof containers are essential when camping in bear country. They're the most effective way to prevent bears from accessing human food, garbage and trash. Additionally, they keep your campsite clean by eliminating food spills that draw bears in.
- Never keep food in your tent
This includes your clothing and toiletries too. Campsites located near food sources such as berry patches attract more bears than those away from such areas. If you only eat snacks during the day and don't cook at night, store them in a different container than where you keep your other camping supplies. This process will ensure that a bear won't be able to smell your food even if it gains access to the kitchen.
When washing dishes, do not leave any scraps behind - this means no grease and no food particles floating on water's surface. Store soap and any leftover washing water in separate bear-proof storage facilities as well so they can't smell them.
- Cooking utensils should be kept clean as well
No leftover oils or other residue should be left behind on pots and pans to give away the presence of food. All used dishwater should be thrown out far away from camp. Be careful not to leave scraps under your chair or table at mealtime either, as they can attract bears attracted by smells as well as visual stimuli such as movement.
- Choose your campsite wisely
It is best to choose a campsite that is not in the path of bears' natural travel routes, so they are less likely to seek you out even if they have caught your scent. If you are camping in a popular spot, you will usually see a clearing with some type of evidence that other campers had been there. This is a great place to camp.
- Camp at the end of a ridge
Bears prefer high ground and will often travel along ridges to survey their territory. By camping on the end of a ridgeline, you are less likely to be noticed by bears or other animals that inhabit the area. You can also get water from nearby streams more easily this way. The end of a ridge is also a good place to position your tent because it provides you with an unobstructed view of the surrounding area.
- Use your sense of smell
At the end of the day, most animals are tired and hungry, so they will look for food that smells great. The key is not to have any scented products on you at all times. This includes soap, aftershave lotion, sunscreen, etc... Keep these in your backpack until you are ready to use them. Only use unscented products when cooking or preparing meals.
A clean campsite will not only ensure that you are not attracting any animals to your tent, but it will also give you a great sense of comfort. The less humans have touched the area where you are setting up camp, the better. Cleaning up after cooking, eating and storing food is just as important as cleaning yourself at the end of each day. Also take care of any odour in your tent or surrounding area to avoid attracting any animals.
- Don't cook where you sleep
Animals are attracted to their prey's favourite scents, if possible, try not to do any cooking near where you are sleeping. This is especially important when storing food overnight. Use a bear canister or hang all food up high in a tree that is not close to your campsite. If cooking with a fire, try to keep it at least 30 meters (100ft) away from where you are sleeping.
- Don't sleep in the same clothes you cooked in
Bears can smell even faint scents of food for miles and miles; if possible, avoid wearing the clothes that you wore while cooking or eating. Change into different clothing when it is time to take a nap. The clothes that you cooked in should be kept far away from your campsite, or if you are hiker - hung up in a tree.