Keeping Animals Out of Your Food While Camping

Sometimes animals take your food and it’s funny, or a little annoying depending on your mood. Like when a raccoon rips into your chip bags. Sometimes it’s borderline terrifying. Like when a bear ransacks your campsite and dismantles your cooler. Cute or catastrophic, critter or beast, keeping animals out of your food while camping is important.

Simply put, you don’t want animals getting into your food. It leaves you hungry, it disrupts the ecosystem that you’re in, and in some instances it leads to animals being euthanized. Keeping animals out of your food while camping doesn’t take much effort, however, and it goes a long way to keep people and animals safe. Here are a few pointers.

Keep your campsite clean

  • Don’t eat in the tent or keep food in the tent.
  • Pick up any food or trash that falls around the campsite.
  • Don’t leave food out unattended, and don’t leave food out over night.

Keep your food secure

  • Store food in tubs or bins with locking lids.
  • Rat sacks – basically a metal mesh bagĀ  – help keep squirrels, raccoons, etc. from getting into your food.
  • Use bear canisters when venturing into bear country.
  • Unless your cooler has a locking lid, assume that it’s not secure from wildlife. Even “bear proof” coolers should be secured.
  • Store food, coolers, trash, and cookware in the trunk of your vehicle over night. This isn’t recommended in bear country, however.

Don’t just think about the food

“Food items” include food but also drinks, pet food, deodorants, toothpaste, and other items that give off a strong scent. It’s important to secure your trash as well.

Be bear aware

Bear boxes are a common sight at campgrounds with active bear populations. If you don’t see a bear box, you can assume that bears aren’t a common in the area.

Arkansas is home to black bears, but most Arkansas campgrounds do not have bear boxes. You can camp in Arkansas your whole life without ever seeing a bear, but that doesn’t mean you should leave food out and ignore bear safety.

Bear bags are useful when camping in the backcountry regardless of whether or not bears are active in the area. This makes it difficult for any animal to access your food. Hang your bear bag away from your campsite to store food and trash over night.

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