Bear encounters are becoming more prevalent; the populations of both the Grizzly and Black bear populations, in the Western States, has grown rapidly in the last few decades. And while it is especially important for campers to know and understand how to minimize potential encounters, minimizing risk and possible injury, it’s also important to know how to store food around “little bears”, which, for the sake of this article, are the rodents and other tiny critters who will literally chew their way to get at your food.
Remember you should never leave food unattended in camp. This applies to both fresh food and trash. Food is best stored in hard-sided devices, such as coolers, or even in the car. When you sleep at night, remember to pack away your food into these containers; packing food away in bags and boxes is only asking for a visit from a bear or “little bear”—imagine how quickly a determined mouse could literally chew its way through the corner of a cardboard box.
Being Careful in Bear Country
If you are camping in bear country, areas that are especially wild, you might want to consider hanging food in bags from trees. In some areas, there are metal bear poles to which you can attach bags of food and string it. However, remember that hung food is not going to get rid of the “little bears”. Raccoons and other rodents can easily climb and get into your bags of food. Bear canisters, which are plastic tubs, and look similar to commercial water jugs, are supposedly bear and “little bear” proof. The only issue with these devices is that they are somewhat bulky, and can be difficult to pack. But if you plan to hang food from a bear pole or tree, then a bear canister is definitely a top choice.
Camping around both bears and “little bears” isn’t challenging, but there is some care and caution required, on your part, to minimize the chance of having an encounter. Stay safe and enjoy the spring season.