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F&G urges hunters to keep a clean camp to avoid unwanted encounters with bears

As hunters strap on their boots and head out into the woods this fall, Fish and Game would like to remind people of a few simple tips they should follow to keep a clean camp and avoid attracting unwanted visitors, particularly bears. As a general rule, anything you can do to store food and garbage in a secure location away from a bear and away from your camp will help keep both people and the bears safe.   

“I recently responded to an incident of a grizzly bear poking its nose around an occupied campsite, no doubt looking for an easy meal,” says Jeremy Nicholson, Fish and Game bear biologist.  “Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to see large camps with coolers full of food, cooking grills, and other attractants left unsecured and accessible to a bear.” During the fall, bears are active 20 hours a day looking for food, so it is important to properly secure food items or any other attractants night and day.  “I’ve seen coolers and other food items tucked under vehicles, in the bed of trucks, and stored inside canvas wall tents," Nicholson says. "None of those will keep a determined bear from getting a food reward, and if you are camping in the National Forest, none of those options meet food storage requirements." 


To minimize chances of a bear visiting your campsite and finding food, campers need to keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Keep a clean camp. Store all food, garbage and even toothpaste, soap, lotions and bug spray in your vehicle or camper. If food storage in a vehicle is not possible, hang in a tree 10 to 15 feet off the ground, at least 100 yards from your campsite. Make sure that the bag is at least 4 feet from the tree trunk. Ideally, campers are encouraged to have a bear-resistant food canister to store their camp groceries.

  • Never cook in or near a tent or keep scented products in a tent.

  • Don't bury food scraps, pour out cooking grease, or leave anything that might be tasty on the ground or in the fire pit. Also, store barbecue grills or other smelly cooking gear inside your vehicle or within a sealed bear resistant container.

  • Never leave food outside or in an unattended or improperly stored cooler. Most coolers are not bear-resistant and simply placing them under a vehicle or trailer is not adequate, even during the day. Pet food can also attract bears to your campsite.

  • Utilize motion activated noise makers or portable electric fencing to prevent bears and other animals from entering your camp.

If you have questions about being ‘Bear Aware’ or would like to report a bear sighting, please contact one of the Idaho Fish and Game regional offices. Fish and Game wants to hear from hunters and wishes everyone a very safe and successful hunting season!


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