F&G urges hunters to keep camp clean to avoid unwanted bear encounters


As hunters put on their boots and head out into the woods this fall, Fish and Game would like to remind people of some simple tips to keep a clean campsite and avoid attracting unwanted visitors, especially bears. As a general rule, anything you can do to store food and waste in a safe place away from a bear and away from your camp will help keep people and bears safe.

“I recently responded to an incident of a grizzly bear poking its nose around a busy campsite, presumably looking for an easy meal,” says Fish and Game bear biologist Jeremy Nicholson. “Unfortunately, it’s 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 in search of food, so it is important to properly secure food or other attractants day and night. “I’ve seen coolers and other food items hidden under vehicles, in the bed of trucks, and stored inside canvas wall tents,” Nicholson says. “None of these will prevent a determined bear from getting a food reward, and if you’re camping in the National Forest, none of these options meet the food storage requirements.”

To minimize the risk of a bear visiting your campsite and finding food, campers should keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Keep a clean camp. Store all food, trash, and even toothpaste, soap, lotions, and insect repellent in your vehicle or RV. If storing food in a vehicle isn’t possible, hang from a tree 10 to 15 feet off the ground, at least 100 yards from your campsite. Make sure the bag is at least 4 feet from the tree trunk. Ideally, campers are encouraged to have a bear-resistant food box to store their camp groceries.
  • Never cook in or near a tent and never store scented products in a tent.
  • Don’t bury food scraps, spill cooking grease, or leave anything tasty on the floor or in the fire pit. Also, store barbecues or other smelly cooking utensils inside your vehicle or in a sealed bear-proof container.
  • Never leave food outside or in a cooler unattended or improperly stored. Most coolers aren’t bear resistant, and it’s not enough to put them under a vehicle or trailer, even during the day. Pet food can also attract bears to your campsite.
  • Use motion-activated noise makers or portable electric fences to keep bears and other animals out of your camp.

If you have any questions about being “Bear Aware” or would like to report a bear sighting, please contact one of Idaho Fish and Game Regional Offices. Fish and Game wants to hear from hunters and wishes everyone a very safe and successful hunting season!

Watch the bear safety video

-More information about the bear-

Living in bear country

Information on the conservation and management of grizzly bears and black bears.

bear identification

black bear hunting

Hunting in grizzly country

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