Storing Food and Trash to Avoid Bears

Bears have an acute sense of smell, and are attracted to human and pet foods as well as waste. If you do not properly store these items, it can allow bears to eat human food and become dependent on it. This can greatly increase the probability of encounters with humans (i.e. Not having a bear proof trash can can lead to increased probability of an encounter with a bear). Most brown and black bear encounters in human-populated areas involve so-called “trouble bears”, usually young males who have just left their mothers and do not yet have a territory of their own. If they wander close to human settlements, the smells of cooking and garbage can cause them to ignore their usual instinct to avoid humans. Many parks and persons in areas with bears utilize bear-resistant garbage cans and containers for this reason, and many areas have laws prohibiting the feeding of bears, even if unintentional. Campers can access bear-proof containers from many parks to store their food and trash. The containers are then buried or strung on a rope between two tall trees, out of bears’ reach. They are also instructed to put their containers, waste and tenting 100 yards (100 m) away from each other to help distance themselves from the possibility of an encounter.