10 Ways to Attract Bears to Your Campsite


Go Ahead, Feed the Bears

In some places, it's not just a bad idea; it's illegal to feed bears.
In some places, it's not just a bad idea; it's illegal to feed bears.

Really, our fuzzy, clawed and sharp-toothed friends are not so different from us. If you go visit a friend and they hand you a piece of chocolate cake upon arrival, you're probably likely to make a return visit. In fact, you might expect that your buddy has chocolate cake waiting at the ready for you.

Bears are no different. If you really want to make a bear feel welcome at your campsite, feed it. While this may seem obvious, a surprising number of wilderness visitors simply don't see the danger in bears. When confronted with one, it seems like a decent idea to get on the bear's good side by tempting it with some marshmallows, trail mix or granola bars so you can get a closer look.

This is a very bad idea.

Attracting bears to your campsite isn't good, but at least it's accidental; luring them with food is really going to get you in trouble. Not only will the bears be happy to come back, but they may also be quite aggressive about obtaining such delicious treats again [source: Yellowstone].

To learn more about how to invite bears too close for comfort, read on for lots more information about bear safety and wilderness guides in general.

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  • American Bear Association. "Senses of the Black Bear." (Jan. 9, 2012) http://www.americanbear.org/senses.htm
  • Center for Wildlife. "Be Bear Aware." (Jan. 9, 2012) http://www.centerforwildlifeinformation.org/BeBearAware/Hiking_and_Camping/hiking_and_camping.html
  • Cushing, Bruce S. "Responses of Polar Bears to Human Menstrual Odors." Bears: Their Biology and Management. Vol. 5. 1983. http://www.bearbiology.com/fileadmin/tpl/Downloads/URSUS/Vol_5/Cushing_Vol_5.pdf
  • Black Bear Conservation Committee. "Bears at Your Campsite." (Jan. 9, 2012) http://www.bbcc.org/web/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=44&Itemid=45
  • National Park Service. "Bears." (Jan. 9, 2012) http://www.nps.gov/ccso/bears.htm
  • National Park Service, Glacier National Park. "Bears." Mar. 30, 2010. (Jan. 9, 2012) http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/bears.htm
  • National Park Service, Yellowstone National Park. "Backcountry camping or hiking." Sep. 27, 2010. (Jan. 9, 2012) http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/backcountryhiking.htm
  • Sanders, Kevin. "Safe Camping with Bears in Yellowstone National Park." (Jan. 9, 2012) http://www.yellowstone-bearman.com/campw_bears.html
  • UK Camping Expert. "Hygiene When Camping." (Jan. 9, 2012) http://www.campingexpert.co.uk/hygiene-when-camping.html
  • U.S. Geological Survey. "Safe Conduct in Bear Country." (Jan. 9, 2012) http://www.absc.usgs.gov/research/brownbears/safety/safeconduct.htm
  • Wildlife Conservation Society. "Solutions to Bear Conflict." (Jan. 9, 2012) http://www.wcs.org/globalconservation/northamerica/Adirondacks/181254/adirondackbbearsolutions
  • Zuckerman, Laura. "Hungry bears smell trouble for humans in Rockies." Reuters. Sep. 29, 2010. (Jan. 9, 2012) http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/09/29/us-bears-rockies-idUSTRE68S4WT20100929


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