I don’t know if you have heard the news lately but there have been issues with bears across the USA and Canada. In Canada in particular, the bears have been quite the problem this summer in campgrounds. The reason for this is their lack of food. In many places across the country, there has been severely hot weather and little rain causing a drought. This drought has limited the natural food supply that bears typically live on. They have been forced to look other places for food, including campgrounds. This is not good as you know.
Unfortunately, in some places the bears have just been shot which just tears my heart out. However, some local governements actually have their heads on straight and are supplying food for the bears so they don’t stay a risk to the local citizens. This is in my opinion is the best approach because it is the most sustainable. We need to preserve our wildlife, not destroy it.
Needless to say, with this current bear issue in mind, we need to take extra precautions to keep ourselves and our families safe when we venture out camping. Camping is fun but it only stays fun when we keep ourselves safe. Below are 10 ways that you, your family, and the bears can all stay safe:
1. Avoid traditional bear feeding areas. Don’t set your tent up in the middle of nowhere where bears are known to graze.
2. Avoid camp locations where bears have been known to roam in the past. If there has been a recent issue with bears at a particular campground, pick another one. You will still be camping so you don’t lose out on anything. Plus it can be fun to try somewhere new.
3. Avoid camping where you may have trouble seeing a bear through vegetation. Again. don’t set up your tent in lush forest areas that may be home to bears. Stay on the main paths and in the main parks.
4. Watch where you hike. One of our most favourite activities when camping is hiking. We love exploring the nature around us. However, in order to stay safe, we avoid trails where there is bear scat. Seeing bear scat means a bear was there was recently and the area should be avoided.
5. Never feed wild bears. Feeding any wildlife in general is a bad thing to do. You train the wildlife to become dependent on human food and not rely on their natural surroundings. This very thing is why bears are drawn to where people are half the time; they are looking for that human food that they once had a taste of.
6. Store your food in a cooler which is locked in the car. We actually store all of our stuff in our car so it doesn’t tempt any of our furry friends to come for a visit. You can also use roof racks if your car is smaller which you can order for discount by using coupon sites like REI. We actually just got a roof rack which allows us to store our kayaks or bins of goods up high and out of reach.
7. Like most animals, bears are attracted to garbage so make sure your campsite is very clean. We keep our campsite spotless at every moment. Not only do we try to keep the wild habitat in tact while we are there but also like knowing we are safe in doing this. Respecting the area you are in not only helps the environment but it also keeps you protected.
8. Remember that behind every cute baby bear is a very overprotective bear mother! Just two weeks ago while we were out kayaking on our camping trip we saw a baby black bear. I must admit we followed them along the shore line with our kayaks to watch them, but we kept a safe distance. They were so cute. We knew though that Mom had to be somewhere close and that trying to get that perfect picture was not worth the risk.
9. Stop fishing when bears are present. They want your fish more than you do. Since I am a vegetarian, I no longer fish but I do know plenty of people who do. If you like to fish, fish smart. Make sure you keep your tackle inside your boat and not in the lake so you don’t pollute the area. Also stay away from known feeding areas. Those bear paws are a lot stronger than your fishing rods.
10. The minimum safe distance from a bear is 50-100 yards. If you do encounter a bear in an area, remain as far away as you can. Bears won’t notice you too much if you keep a fair distance. Walk away slowly and you should be ok.
So, there you have it; 10 ways to protect yourself and the bears when camping. By following these tips you will not only perserve your safety but you will also keep wildlife safe, and that my friends to me is the best of both worlds.
So, do you have any bear stories to share? What kind of wilderness safety tips do you practice on your trips?