AllCampgrounds: A Quick Reminder About Bear Safety, Now With New Tips

August 26, 2011
Filed under: Camping Safety, Nature
A young bear

A young bear
Photo by: Tobias Zierof (Stock Exchange)

Welcome back to AllCampgrounds!

Bears are in the headlines again, with a fatal grizzly bear attack at Yellowstone making big news around that park.

The attack took place at Wapiti Lake Trail, known as a trail for backpacking enthusiasts who want to get off the beaten path.

This is the only such bear event at Yellowstone in over 25 years, but it isn’t the only place bears have been spotted lately: at Grand Lake, Colorado, a group of 7th and 8th graders were thankfully unharmed when a bear wandered into their campsite, rummaged through their foodstuffs and helped himself to some granola bars.

This is all despite chaperones taking the right precautions in keeping the food away from the camp!

So, now seems an important time to remind our readers about bear safety.

Here are some resources on AllCampgrounds you can use to prepare for bear encounters:

All About Bears: A quick overview of bears, their habitat, and basic behaviors.

Bears and Camping: Campsite selection and food safety to avoid bear approaches.

Meeting a Bear in the Smokies: What to do if you encounter a bear while camping.

Bears and You: What to do before, during, and after a bear encounter.

The best way to deal with bears is avoid them completely. However, it’s not always possible to keep clear of bears in their habitat, even when you’ve followed every precaution. Lately, there’s been a huge proliferation of bear repellent sprays on the market. Most commercial options are “pepper spray like” and are intended to be used when the bear has already spotted you. Consult with your local camping gear store and get recommendations from other campers before deciding on the right spray for you.

A bear’s sense of smell is very sensitive, and bears are often attracted to scents like food (cooked or otherwise) and animal waste; for that reason, some campers swear by ammonia as a bear repellent. Ammonia cannot (and should not!) be “applied” to the bear; but rags soaked in ammonia or bleach and placed strategically at areas of interest are known to keep mildly interested bears from proceeding into camps. This is a good way to add another layer of protection to your camp grounds, especially if you have children, a pet, or other special reasons to be concerned about wildlife attention.

Not all parks and camp grounds are in bear territory, and a bear attack remains an exceedingly rare event. For the most part, bears do not want to interfere with humans, and the few bear attacks that take place usually involve a mother bear who has been frightened in some way. Nonetheless, be aware of bears and other critters when you camp, whether you’re tent camping or out in your RV. Picking the right site, being careful with “bear bait,” and knowing how to handle an emergency will make that “lightning strike” chance of camping trouble all the less likely.

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