There are certain aspects of camping that are nigh inevitable, such as secretly wishing coffee could be ready and waiting when you wake up to watch the sunrise, getting sunburnt after a full day spent swimming and hiking, and eating so many s’mores that you can’t bear to look at another marshmallow for a month. However, you can avoid and protect against unwanted animal visitors at your campsite. Follow these tips and tricks to safeguard your campsite against bears, raccoons, and other wildlife the next time you head into the backcountry.

  • To reduce your campsite’s appeal to bears and other animals, store all food, garbage, toiletries, and even cooking equipment in bear-resistant canisters, and/or suspend these in the air via the food storage cables provided at designated campsites.
  • If you are not at a designated campsite and do not have a bear-resistant storage container, hang your food between two trees, at least 4 metres from the ground and 1.4 metres from each tree.
  • Do not store food in your car, and check pockets and bags for forgotten food (like candy or chewing gum; bears love sweets as much as we do).
  • Choose a campsite away from fish-spawning streams, signs of recent wildlife activity, thick brush and berry patches.
  • Keep your campsite clean, and burn garbage where possible. If you pack it in, pack it out, as litter and garbage left behind can attract scavenging animals. Make sure the campsite remains safe for the next campers.
  • Avoid foods with strong odours, such as canned fish and bacon. Plan meals carefully to avoid leftovers.
  • Use fragrance-free shampoos and soaps, and avoid wearing perfume, as bears are attracted by smells. Keep in mind that even insect-repelling citronella can attract bears.
  • Don’t be tempted to feed the birds (no matter what they did in Mary Poppins), as leftover seeds can attract more dangerous animals later.
  • Campfires and loud noises act as deterrents to animals such as bears and coyotes, so don’t be afraid to talk loudly and sing! (Although we advise against singing 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, as this could put you in danger from annoyed fellow campers.)
  • Keep all food out of your tent.
  • Just in case, keep bear spray readily available.

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