Bears can be a serious concern for new campers, as they are occasionally known to raid campsites in search of food and other attractants. If you’re planning a camping trip in bear country, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself and your campsite from these animals, and just as importantly – protect the bears from unnecessary human conflicts. While bears are general not an imminent threat to your safety in the backcountry, it’s good practice to take some basic steps to discourage a nighttime visitation.

Here are a few basic tips for keeping bears away while camping:

Store food and other attractants properly: Bears have an incredible sense of smell, and they are attracted to any type of food or scented item. To keep bears away from your campsite, it’s important to store all food, toiletries, and trash in a bear-proof container or bear-proof locker. If these are not available, hang your food and other attractants at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet out from the trunk of a tree, using a bear bag or bear canister.

Cook and eat away from your campsite: If possible, try to cook and eat at least 100 yards away from your campsite. This will help to reduce the chances of bears becoming attracted to the smells of your food. If you must cook at your campsite, be sure to properly store all food and clean up thoroughly afterwards, using hot water and biodegradable soap.

Make noise: Bears are generally more afraid of humans than we are of them, so making noise can help to keep them away from your campsite. Try singing, clapping, or using a bear horn or other noisemaker to let bears know you are in the area.

Use bear spray: While it remains extremely rare, if you do encounter a bear while camping, bear spray can be an effective means of deterring the animal. Keep a can of bear spray easily accessible, and know how to use it in case of an emergency.

By following these simple steps, you can help to keep bears away from your campsite and enjoy a safe and enjoyable camping trip in bear country. Remember, the best way to prevent bear encounters is to be prepared and take steps to minimize the chances of attracting bears to your campsite in the first place.