During our recent trip up north we had over 10 bear sightings, they were in camp and seen on hikes. Without too much encouragement they will leave you alone, especially in more wilderness areas where they have not become accustomed to humans but we cannot stress how important it is to camp responsibly and to avoid leaving out bear attractants.
What are the top bear attractants?
- Human food
- Pet food
- Cooking pots and utensils
- Cooking oils
- Fuel for stoves and lanterns
- Unopened canned beverages
- Cosmetics, insect repellents, lotions, toothpaste
How should I store food while camping?
Food is by far the biggest attractant for a bear. Never store food in your tent – the vehicle comes with storage boxes and pull out drawers. Place all food inside and make sure you properly close and lock the vehicle. If you are camping away from the vehicle, place all food into a bag and string it up a tree away from where you are camping. If you think a cooler is enough to out-smart a bear, think again. They will quickly learn how to open a cooler box so don’t leave your cooler box unattended! Even if it only contains cold beer, coolers are still an attractant.
What about camping with pets?
Pets are wildlife attractants, bears and other wildlife will be interested in the new smells. Unleashed pets may cause a bear to investigate more thoroughly so if you do bring your pets, keep them leashed at all times. Bear encounters are much safer to handle if you dog is leashed.
Where do i put my garbage?
Make sure that you have all garbage packed away. Do not leave trasharoos and other garbage devices on the back of vehicles. All garbage must be locked away in your vehicle or put into bear proof, locked garbage bins provided by the campsite.
What to do if you encounter a bear?
The most important thing to remember if you do encounter a bear is, don’t run! If you run, you may very well trigger the bear’s predatory instincts and if it wants to catch you, it will. Stop and calmly assess the situation.
- If the bear is not aware of you, quietly and calmly leave the area. Do not approach more closely for any reason.
- If the bear is aware of you, identify yourself as a human. Talk to the bear in a calm voice and put your arms out to the side and move them slowly up and down. Avoid direct eye contact but watch it to see what it does next. The bear may run away immediately or it may look at you and then resume doing whatever it was doing, or it may approach you.
- If the bear runs away, walk away in a direction different than the bear ran. Leave the area to avoid another encounter.
- If the bear looks at you and then seems to ignore you, or continues looking, but does not retreat or approach, back away while continuing to talk to the bear. Do not turn your back on the bear until you cannot see it and it cannot see you.
- If the bear approaches you, stop, stand your ground. Remain calm and observe the bear for clues to its mood or intentions.
- A defensive bear feels you are a threat. Continue to talk to the bear and act in a non-threatening manner. When the bear stops approaching, continue backing up. If the bear approaches or charges you, stop again and wait for the bear to back up a bit before you back up again.
- A curious or predatory bear does not make any noise, will point its ears forward and have its attention focused solely on you in a calm, non-agitated manner. If you have tried to back up and the bear continues to follow you in a slow deliberate manner and shows none of the signs of defensive aggression, you may want to try a new approach and act aggressively, make yourself look as big as possible.