If you are going camping in bear country, it is always important to be careful. Bears can cause a lot of damage to your campsite, and worse still, they might even end up killing if they go on a rampage.
Think about the following example:
You have just planned a fantastic trip with your friends. You have packed your bags, loaded a couple of collapsible tents, some sleeping bags, and have everything that you need to have an enjoyable trip.
You have ice boxes with food and drinks, and you have all of the granola bars and trail mixes that you could want on your camping trail. Then, when you have everything set up, Mother Nature sets loose one of its most powerful and deadly creatures on you.
It doesn’t matter if you are camping in the car or simply backpacking, or have your tents set up in the woods, you have to be very careful about bear encounters.
First of all, you have to understand that the sense of smell in a bear is almost seven times stronger than a bloodhound.
Bloodhounds, for those who do not know, can track their prey down thousands of miles and eventually capture them. Now, imagine an animal that is able to smell things seven times more easily.
The sense of smell in a bear is actually quite helpful for the animal because it uses it to not only detect incoming threats, but also to look for mates and search for food.
Needless to say, if you have hotdogs on the grill in bear country, there is a very high chance that bears will smell the food and will definitely drop by to get a closer look.
But, hotdogs on the grill are not the only thing that you need to worry about. If you have dogs with you, their poop might be an attractant to.
Poop and Bears
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they let their dog out on the campsite is that they let the animal poop anywhere it wants.
That’s a bad idea: letting your dog poop anywhere in the woods without any concern is definitely going to attract bears.
Dog poop is smelly, everyone knows that. If you don’t pick it up for a while, the poop will harden over time, but the smell will remain.
When bears notice a foreign smell in “their territory,” they are going to come and investigate. In fact, while it may sound disgusting, you have to know that bears will even eat the dog poop if they can get their hands on it.
If you have a dog out in the campsite, you have to make sure that you go along with the animal when it has to defecate. Once the dog is done with its business, you have to pick up the poop and dispose of it in a careful manner.
You must wrap the poop in a plastic bag and then place it in the garbage bin that you have set up around the campsite.
Littering is an absolute no-no, regardless of where you are camping. It’s recommended that you pick up all of the trash and leave as little impact as possible on the campsite.
If there is a bathroom on the campsite, you should empty the contents inside right away.
Remember, the key here is to make sure that the dog poop doesn’t smell. If you put the poop in a paper bag, for instance, the smell is still going to waft out.
We have already established that bears are able to smell things from afar, so this won’t be much of an issue.
But, you have to understand that dog poop is not the only thing that you must worry about. There are several other attractants that you need to be wary of if you are camping.
If a bear does visit your campsite, using bear repellent spray or other means is a great idea to deter them.
Here are some other attractants that you need to know about.
One of the main things that will definitely attract bears to campsites is noise. If you have a boombox and are playing loud music, it’s important that you turn them off.
Bears hate noisy music, and they will come to explore what’s wrong. They prefer the quiet, idyllic sounds of the forest, and they especially don’t like rap or hip-hop music.
More importantly, you should know that bears don’t want to be anywhere near humans. However, this also has a dual effect; in some cases, bears actively try to avoid situations where they know humans are present. They will avoid places with a lot of noise.
Bottled beverages, including water are all interesting for the bear, and they are going to try and explore what’s inside. Obviously, a bottle is no match for a bear, and you might find them foraging in your icebox to find something inside.
Drinks in cans and bottles are major attractants, so it’s important that you close the icebox and keep it in a secure location.
This one’s a bit obvious; any kind of food is going to attract bears to your campsite. Pet foods and containers, for instance, are all considered super-smellers, which means their smell goes a long way.
It’s definitely going to arouse a bear’s sense of smell. When that happens, they will want to explore the source of the smell.
A common mistake that many people make is that they tend to store food items in their tent. That’s not a wise thing to do.
When the noises die down in the night and people fall asleep, the bear will be inclined to explore further, and the last thing that you want in the night is to wake up to the sight of a bear tearing down your tent.
But then, what do you do? The best way to store these items is to place them in a food locker or a portable bear canister.
They are readily available from different camping stores, and you can easily use those to keep all of your food in a safe and secure location.
Even the kibble that you bring on site for your dog is food for your bear, so it’s important that you keep that away too.
It might seem completely innocuous for the human palate, but you have to understand that bears really don’t mind such food items.
One of the biggest mistakes that you could make when camping outside is to leave your dog unattended or without a leash. Make it a habit to put your dog on a leash every time you go camping.
Your dog doesn’t stand any chance against a bear, and if you have a fiercely protective animal such as a German Shepherd or a Doberman, you should know that the dog will happily lay down its life to protect you.
Again, totally unnecessary, but something that has happened many times in the past. You should never, ever let your pet out on the campsite. Remember, when you leave a dog without a leash to explore the surroundings, their senses are overpowered by the sheer number of smells that they can explore.
A domesticated dog has obviously not smelt all of this before, and they are not really aware of the dangers that lie ahead.
Keep in mind that wild animals, such as bears, have already figured out that new smells often mean new visitors, so they either stay away or try to scare them.
Dogs, on the other hand, won’t know much, and will just go out to explore. You don’t want that to happen, so it’s important that you don’t let them out all by themselves.
Similarly, you have to care about the toiletries as well. You have to treat odorous products such as toothpaste, fuel, lotions, sunscreens, and bug sprays in the same manner as food.
This advice was given by the Grand Teton National Park, a national reserve where bears are aplenty.
Cosmetic items have strong odors, and as mentioned throughout the article, strong odors pique the interest of bears, and they will want to explore what’s around.
If you don’t want that to happen, it’s recommended that you carefully keep the items packed and in proper containers.
Human trash is a serious problem in major parks such as Yellowstone National Park or Yosemite National Park.
This is a serious issue not just because it harms the environment, but because it can also attract bears from different areas. For those who don’t know, bears are mostly nocturnal animals.
Most bears won’t be running around in the daytime and will usually remain in their cave. But they do smell all of the different smells.
Foraging bears are definitely going to be tempted to explore what’s around, and you have to make sure that you remove all of the trash once your trip is over.
Give at least a few hours to the cleanup process, and be particularly mindful about removing everything. Don’t think that leaving behind food items is acceptable as they will eventually decompose.
You should remove everything and be respectful of your surroundings, as well as those who are going to come after you to camp on the site.
Foraging bears will be tempted to explore once you have gone, so it’s important that you remove everything.
How to Avoid a Bear Attack
Before you decide to go hiking or camping in bear country, you need to be especially aware of how to handle yourself in case of a bear attack.
For instance, if you are on a trail that is known for wildlife encounters, you have to make sure that you tread carefully. Avoid running with your dog on these trails.
Many predators, including bears, take these actions as provocative, and they might be inclined to attack.
They might start chasing you on these trails and eventually attack. Some people have the foolish opinion that they can outrun a bear. Unfortunately, when a grizzly bear starts running, they are able to reach speeds of up to 56 km per hour.
There’s no way that you can outrun a bear, so it’s not even worth trying. Instead, you should always carry bear spray with you. More importantly, it’s best to carry a first aid kit along for your dog, and always keep your phone handy.
If you are going to a remote area, it would be recommended that you take a GPS transmitter along with you.
Another problem that many people face is related to surprise encounters. If you don’t want to worry about a surprise encounter, the best thing to do is to make a great deal of noise.
You might want to play music on a Bluetooth speaker if you have one, or you should just talk and sing as loudly as possible.
Also, avoid trails that have limited sight lines. Remember, the aim is to make yourself as big as possible with a bear around, so it’s important that you move in a group.
If there are several people hiking the trail, you would do well to move in a group.
Bear bells are also available, so put a few on yourself, and then put one on your dog’s collar. In case your dog decides to wander off, you will at least be able to hear the animal in the distance.
More importantly, you have to keep an eye out. Always look for tracks, or bear poop on the trails that you are walking.
If you notice overturned rocks or scratched trees, it’s a clear sign that there have been bears on the trail. You might want to stay quiet and move in a huddle.
Also, if there are closed trails, you should always avoid them. These trails are generally closed by the park rangers to maintain public safety, so it’s best if you stay off these trails.
These are just a few things that you can do to protect yourself against bear attacks.