IDFG: Simple precautions to help avoid bear problems at home and camp

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Posted at 10:32 AM, Jul 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-06 12:32:45-04

IDAHO — Idaho Fish and Game says proper food and garbage storage is important to avoid conflicts with bears at your home or campsite. Most bear conflicts happen between July and September and are linked to careless handling of food and garbage.

With people heading outdoors, IDFG encourages them that most conflicts can be avoided by being mindful of food and garbage. The same precautions apply to homeowners in bear country.

“Minimize the chances of a bear conflict for yourself and those following you by securing your food and garbage, and anything else that a bear might find tasty,” said Dennis Newman, wildlife manager for Idaho Fish and Game’s Salmon Region. “Bears are very opportunistic and once they find a food reward, they will be back for more.”

Related: Bear seen at campground near Lucky Peak reservoir

If a bear doesn't find anything to eat at your camp or near your home, it will likely leave the area, according to IDFG. To minimize chances of a bear causing problems near your camp or home, keep these tips in mind:

  • Tips around camp:
    • Keep a clean camp. Store all food, garbage and even toothpaste, soap, lotions and bug spray in your vehicle or camper. If food storage in a vehicle is not possible, hang in a tree 10 to 15 feet off the ground, at least 100 yards from your campsite. Make sure that the bag is at least 4 feet from the tree trunk. Ideally, campers are encouraged to have a bear-resistant food canister to store their camp groceries.
    • Never cook in or near a tent or keep scented products in a tent.
    • Don't bury food scraps, pour out cooking grease, or leave anything that might be tasty on the ground or in the fire pit. Also, store barbecue grills or other smelly cooking gear inside your vehicle or within a sealed bear resistant container.
    • Never leave food outside or in an unattended or improperly stored cooler. A cooler is not bear-resistant. Remember that pet food can also attract bears to your campsite. Be sure and secure any pet food after feeding your pet.
  • Tips around home/cabin:
    • Keep garbage in bear-resistant containers or in a closed building.
    • Empty and remove bird feeders during the summer months when songbirds are able to forage on food provided by nature.
    • Clean up fruit that has fallen in your yard. Rotting fruit will attract bears as well as raccoons and skunks.
    • Feed pets inside or during daylight hours; don't leave pet food or food scraps outside of your home or camp, as it can attract bears, raccoons and skunks.
    • Store horse and livestock grains inside closed barns.
    • Keep barbecue grills stored in closed buildings.

IDFG says black bears are typically shy and unaggressive, but the possibility of a bold bear may increase if it loses its fear of humans because it has learned to associate food with campsites. These bears can become nuisances or threats.

Live trapping and moving a bear doesn't always solve the problems and bears conditioned to human food leaves IDFG officials with no choice but to put it down.

If a bear visits your campsite, make as much noise as possible to scare the bear away. Be sure to give the bear room to easily escape the area.

Click here to learn more about bear behavior and how to prevent unwanted bear encounters around your home, campsite and when recreating outdoors.