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July 16, 2009

Help Utah’s Black Bears- Clean up Your Campsite!

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By Alaina Caudillo (USEE Intern)

It started on July 1st, only two weeks ago. The first Black Bear of the year was shot and killed by a citizen at a campsite after following his nose to some tasty food scraps, most likely left behind by previous campers. This is the time of year when the weather is warm and more people are getting out into Utah’s mountains to recreate and enjoy time with their families and friends.

In the past two weeks, four other Black Bears have been killed; three of the five incidents involving campsites. Bears have an extremely strong sense of smell, and are drawn to things like soap, perfume, and food items and their residues such as grease from your hamburgers, and fish heads or skins. By keeping our campsites cleaner and properly storing food, either in bear containers or suspending items 12 feet high from a tree, we are doing our part to protect these magnificent animals.

Keeping things tidy upon your departure from designated camping and hiking areas also helps to protect other Utah families that camp after you, from these unexpected visitors. Listed below are some tips from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources about staying safe in bear country.
  • Don’t leave food and scented items, such as deodorants and tooth paste, out where a bear can get them.
  • Keep your campsite and cabin area clean.
  • Don't toss food scraps and other trash around.
  • Don't keep any food in the same area where you're sleeping.
  • If an item has a strong smell to it, consider leaving it at home.
  • Never feed a bear.
  • Black bears can be discouraged by a counter attack so fight back if a scuffle ensues.
For more info about black bears, click here.

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