10 Ways to Avoid Bears When Camping

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?


10 Ways to Avoid Bears When Camping — 25 Comments

  1. In the area that I live, there has been an increase in black bear sightings (in an urban area). I remember that a bear was spotted in the same neighborhood as our house. crazy! It’s amazing connected our lives our and how important these tips are (not just for camping).

  2. For those of us who like to out trip (or even remote camping away from a car) you should put all of your food in a large back back and haul it into a tree via a VERY high branch and rope. It should be about 15 ft up in the air and situated close to the tree itself – find a good sturdy overhanging branch with some length to it.

    • @SPF. Thanks for the great back country tip. We too like to go into remote areas which means we are constantly on wildlife watch. We always try to make sure we don’t tempt them with anything so we don’t have a problem. So do you have any good back country trail recommendations? I would love to explore more of Ontario.

  3. Love this post! I camped in the Sequoia’s this summer and we had to store all our toiletries and food in a bear locker and were advised NOT to store our stuff in our car. The Yosemite website has some photos of bears breaking into cars and it’s quite impressive, and scary! Thanks for the tips!

    • @LH. Glad to hear you have been being a responsible camper. Nothing bothers me more than people being irresponsible with their stuff and then the bears get blamed for it. Thanks for doing your part to protect our furry friends. You’re right though- a bear breaking into a car would be scary.

  4. It never fails to amaze me how people sometimes look at an animal in the wild and think ‘awww…how cute!’. The reality is that ‘cute’ animal is wild and not interested in your health and well being:)

    I was at a National Park when younger, dont remember which one..may have been Yosemite or Rocky Mountain. Anyway, I recall a small bear nearby the road, and a family got out of their car to throw food at the bear. Might have been a family of 5 or 6. Anyway, one of the kids even threw rocks at the bear. The parents and other kids were just giggling and laughing as they took pictures and themselves tossed food toward the bear. How lucky they were that they weren’t attacked!

    • @Squirrelers. No kidding- lucky they were. And how disrespectful to the bear. Throwing rocks at it- gosh that outrages me. Some parents I just shake my head at. They sure aren’t setting a good example for their kids. Wild animals are cute and should be respected but we also need to be careful with them like you pointed out.

  5. There have been some terrifying bear attacks lately. Hiking in a group on a trail with plenty of other hikers is good. If you carry your lunch in your backpack be prepared to throw it to a bear. Wear a bear bell or make noise as you hike. Don’t eat in your tent or keep snacks in there. Keep all food in a “bear box” provided by your campground. I think there is a bear-strength pepper spray, though I don’t know if it’s much help.

  6. Luckily I’ve never had an encounter with a bear. Even if I had the chance to, I don’t think I would ever want to get close enough to a bear to feed it. That’s just plain scary. I’ve seen people do this a lot on some animal planet television show and it usually doesn’t turn out too pretty. I just don’t get why some people would even want to risk their lives just to feed a potentially dangerous animal!

  7. All good advice, Miss T. Most importantly, stay away! I’ve never had a bear encounter, but I would still carry a heavy duty spray repellent in bear country. There are some on the market made especially for bears.

  8. We’re lucky, no bears in our area. There have been some alleged spottings of Mountain Lions, but they could have been coyotes instead.

    Thanks for the tips, they will come in handy if I’m on vacation!

  9. I love the beer commercial where one hiker convinces his friend to cover himself in honey as a preventitive measure. After doing it, he asks why, and the friend says I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you!

  10. We are going camping in WV in mid-Feb. Thanks for the information! We’ll definitely have some great things to talk about before going. I hope all of the bears are still sleepy then though!

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