Bear SafetyTtips for Memorial Day Weekend

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As Memorial Day weekend nears, DWR provides tips to keep you safe

Doing five simple things will lessen the chance that a black bear visits your campsite this year:

  • Don’t leave food out.
  • Don’t scatter food scraps and other litter around your campsite or cabin area.
  • Don’t keep food in the area where you’re sleeping.
  • Don’t bring items with you that have a strong odor.
  • Never feed a bear.

With last summer’s fatal bear attack in American Fork Canyon fresh on their minds, Kevin Bunnell believes Utahns will be more willing than ever to follow that advice.

“And by following these rules, you’ll be helping other people too,” says Bunnell, mammals program coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources. “A bear may not visit the area while you’re there, but the food you leave out and the litter you leave behind could bring a bear to that same area after you leave. And that could create a serious problem for people who camp in the area after you.”

Rules for a clean camp

Bunnell says strong smells are what attracts bears to people. By following a few simple rules, you can greatly reduce the chance that a bear visits your camp or cabin:

  • Don’t leave food out. Instead, lock your food and coolers inside your vehicle or suspend them at least 12 feet high between two trees, so bears can’t reach them.
  • You can also store food in a bear-proof container. But remember that most containers, including plastic coolers, are NOT bear proof. Bear-proof containers are available at various sporting goods and outdoor stores.
  • Don’t scatter garbage, food scraps and fat drippings around your campsite. And don’t leave them in your fire pit, either. Instead, place them in an airtight container, lock them securely in the trunk of your car or inside your trailer, and take them home with you. If bear-proof garbage cans are available in your campground, you can also leave them in the cans.
  • After you’re through cooking and eating, immediately clean your cooking grills and anything used to prepare, eat or clean up food.
  • Don’t keep any food in the area where you’re sleeping.
  • Cook away from your tent or sleeping area. And don’t sleep in the clothes you wore while cooking or the clothes you wore while cleaning fish. Leave those clothes, along with utensils, rags and anything used to prepare, cook, eat and clean up food, at your cooking area or sealed inside a vehicle.
  • Don’t bring items with you that have a strong odor. Bears have extremely sensitive noses. Anything that has a strong smell, including deodorant, perfume and certain soaps, could draw a bear to your campsite.
  • Never feed a bear.

Bear safety tips

More tips on how to stay safe in bear country, including what to do if you encounter a bear while hiking, are available at