Don’t tempt the bears: Keeping food safely stored in the outdoors

Posted at 3:06 PM, Jul 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-15 18:19:30-04

For people heading to the backcountry, it’s important to know how to store your food to keep it away from our four-legged friends — not dogs, but bears.

To avoid an unwanted encounter with a bear, experts say you need to think about where you put your food.

“They have to be actively used by you, or when you’re away from your campsite more than 100 feet, they have to be locked inside your vehicle with the windows up. Or they can be put inside of a bear-resistant box that’s at a campground,” said Danielle Oyler, bear education coordinator with the Custer Gallatin National Forest.

Once you have your bear-resistant cooler, you need to lock it up.

“Either a padlock or nut and bolt. We like to use carriage bolts and nuts; that way the bear can’t get their claws under it and pull it open. With wingnuts, there’s a little more to work with. So those are some things to consider when you have those containers.” Oyler said.

One of a bear’s most powerful tools is its sense of smell — at least 7 times more powerful than a domestic dog, according to Oyler — so leaving a campsite better than how you found it is always a good reminder.

You need to be considering how you’re keeping your campsite clean, not only for your safety but also for safety for people who come after you. So if you leave grease in your fire pit and then leave, you can be endangering that campsite the next day.” Oyler said.

If you do encounter a bear at your campsite, the forest service says that you need to make the bear aware that you’re there, and always have bear spray handy.

Click here for a list of certified, bear-resistant products.

Reporting by Carson Vickroy for MTN News