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Heading out camping? Here's what you need to know to keep your food safe from bears

Posted at 5:00 PM, Jul 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-02 19:11:30-04

It's going to be a beautiful weekend to get outside and enjoy the Idaho outdoors, but there's a few things you should know before you go.

Idaho Fish and Game's Magic Valley Region Communications Director, Terry Thompson, says they've already seen bears getting into garbage looking for food, especially in the Wood River Valley area.

Usually, Fish and Game doesn't start getting those reports until mid-July, but this
year they started getting them in May.

If you're heading up to go camping for the 4th of July weekend, there is one big "do" and two big "don'ts" when it comes to keeping food safe from wildlife.


  • Lock up and secure your food


  • Keep food in insecure locations (in your tent, unlocked coolers etc.)
  • Eat food in your tent

"Bears have a great sense of smell, and they will find your tent and get into it," explained Thompson.

If bears get used to eating people food, they become dependent on it--which can be dangerous for people and the bear.

"Unfortunately the outcome with food-conditioned bears is they have to be captured and euthanized because they become a public safety hazard," said Thompson."That is an avoidable situation."

There are some secure places to store food while out camping. If you have an RV or other camper, you can keep food in there. If you're a tent camper, Fish and Game recommends keeping food in your car. You can also hang food from trees. Just make sure it's at least 10 feet off the ground and away from the base of the three.

Locking up your cooler is another great way to keep your snacks safe.

"Bears are very smart. They learn how to open coolers up. They're strong. So leaving a cooler unsecured, that would not be considered a safe way to store your food," Thompson said.