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Bad News Bears: How To Avoid Bears While Camping

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New Hampshire Public Radio recently announced that the state is still struggling to control the conflict between humans and its native bear population. In the last year alone, conflicts between humans and bears have doubled with nearly 800 encounters reported.

Though most conflicts are benign — a bear might go after a bird feeder or garbage can — there is a significant threat to farms and even campers. And for the people who do come face to face with a bear, the worry over their personal safety may loom large.

Even larger cities in the state have had trouble with bears in the last year. According to bear biologist, Andrew Timmins, bears are food-motivated and have few issues visiting highly-populated areas for the sake of a good meal.

So how can campers avoid a potential conflict with bears?

Focusing on the food we bring to campgrounds may be a good first step.

Since bears generally stay away from humans, the main reason a bear may come to your campsite is in search of food. According to the Sequoia National Park Visitor Center, some bears can smell food up to three miles away.

On top of that, many bears know what ice boxes and coolers look like nowadays.

Here are some food tips and tricks you should utilize the next time you go camping in bear country.

Take preventative measures

The best thing you can do is store your food in a bear-proof container, such as a metal bear box. Some campgrounds supply this equipment, but many do not.

If you’re camping in an RV, closing your vents and storing food out of sight is another option. Try supplementing your camp with bear-proof locks and bear spray in easily accessible locations.

You should also plan an easily navigable escape route should something go wrong at your campsite. Additionally, you should always have at least one sober individual at your camp to drive should an emergency occur. It’s estimated that nearly 1.1 million drivers were arrested in 2015 because they drove under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.

Bring the right food

While it might be tempting to bring delicious spices and sauces on the road, you should leave the smelly stuff at home. Particularly pungent foods could put your campground at risk, even if you have bear-proof containers.

Dehydrated foods are on the rise as more people take to the road — or the campground. In fact, investments for the dehydrated food market is expected to grow from 2018 until at least 2025.

Luckily, there are plenty of dehydrated options available in vacuum-sealed bags. For any other food items, storing those in plastic containers with strong seals is a necessity.

Though this dehydrated food might not taste as good as your freshly-made omelet, keep in mind that your liver produces more than enough bile to help digest these foreign foods. In fact, it produces between 700 ml and 1,000 ml of bile each day to help aid in digestion.

While you may have heard that tying your food in a tree will be enough to keep the bears away, this is an unfortunate lie. Bears are pretty smart, so storing your food in portable canisters while you go hiking is a much safer option.

What do I do if I’m hurt by a bear?

It’s unlikely that you’ll be hurt by a bear, but in the event you get injured while camping in bear country, you should seek medical attention promptly. Luckily, there is an estimated 15,655 skilled nursing centers in the United States alone, along with urgent care centers and first aid centers.

Should you see a bear when you’re camping, don’t approach it. Instead, make yourself appear larger by waving your arms while making as much noise as you can to scare it away. If you’re with other campers, group together to intimidate the bear before you look for a path of escape.

When you go camping in bear country, it’s essential that you follow these tips and tricks to stay safe. If you encounter a bear or a bear steals your food, be sure to alert a park ranger right away.

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