In light of the recent judgment passed regarding the bear attack on an 11-year old boy in Utah, this article provides safety tips campers should use to avoid such an unfortunate encounter. It’s really common sense, however, many campers – including this 11-year old boy and his family – had food wrappers in their tents, which prompted the attack.
Occasionally we’ll read or hear a story of a bear mauling campers while they lie a deep in their campsite. It’s a tragedy to be sure, but one that can be avoided with a little “bear mentality” and some common sense.
The biggest reason cited for bear attacks upon a campsite is the improper storage of food or garbage. Therefore, the easiest way to avoid an unwanted campsite visitor is to follow a few simple safety tips.
(Subtitle) Minimizing Human Odors Reduces Risk of Bear Attacks
Inexperienced campers may forget that bears, like most animals, are motivated by their appetite. It doesn’t take long for bears to figure out that where there are humans, there’s food. Bears that have figured this out will have lost their natural fear of humans. Couple that with an excellent sense of smell and you’ve got a potentially hazardous situation.
Whether you are camping in a campground or in the woods, eliminating the scent of food from around your camp is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from a bear attack.
- Keep your campsite clean. Remove temptation by keeping your garbage picked up and discarded in an animal-proof trash receptacle.
- Store all food items and personal toiletries in plastic, sealed containers. Then, store those containers far away from where you are sleeping. If possible, you can put them in a vehicle, or other wildlife-resistant container. Handle pet and livestock food in the same manner. Toiletries? Yes. According to Discovery Channel’s animal expert, Dr. Thomas Smith, bears are curious about anything that smells human — including toothpaste and perfume.
- Keep a significant distance between your sleeping and cooking areas. If you’re camping in the woods, store your food and toiletries at least 100 yards away from where you’re sleeping. Suspend your food above the ground at least 10 to 15 feet high, and four feet from the top and side supports.
- Remove the scent of food from your body. Always wash your hands after handling food, and place the clothes that you wore while cooking or handling the food away from your sleeping area.
- Cook only what you will eat to avoid leftovers. If you’re camping in the woods, use food that has been packaged in single serving, airtight containers. If you do have leftover food, dispose of it in a nearby lake or stream.
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