Proper food storage in bear country is imperative for the safety of everyone - including the animals. The food we eat is delicious - especially to wildlife. Backcountry food thieves can include marmots, jays, deer, ravens, coyotes, goats, and both grizzly bears and black bears.
Wildlife will go after any item that smells. That includes food, sunscreen, lip balm, water bottles, snacks, pots & pans, and even the clothing that you cook in. Animals can smell these odorous items from long distances because they have a far superior sense of smell than humans. The smells attract creatures of all shapes and sizes.
When an animal smells food, it goes after it. It will eat through your tent, break your car window and rip out your seats, destroy your food bags, and ultimately leave you without anything to eat. This is bad. Really bad! Not only because you'll be hungry, but now these wild animals are trained to go after human foods - a habit that can ultimately cause behaviors that may require them to be killed.
All it takes is one careless person for a normal bear that would prefer to avoid humans to become a nuisance bear that is not only a threat to people, but could potentially be killed for its behaviors. All because one person didn't practice proper food storage in bear country. Don't be that person!
If you're camping at a campsite or plan to camp in bear country, there are some basic rules that you absolutely must follow for everyone's safety.
- Keep your food secure at all times - day and night.
- Treat all aromatic items and food items the same.
- Never feed any animal.
- Leave all zippers unzipped slightly at night so animals don't eat through your things.
- Always cook and store your food at least 100 feet away and downwind from your campsite. The farther the better!
- Never leave food items in your car.
- Keep a clean camp.
- Never be careless with food items.
If you're in grizzly bear country, you need to be even more responsible with your food items. Here are a few additional tips:
- Utilize bear boxes at established campgrounds.
- Hang your food 10 feet above the ground and 4 feet away from the tree.
- Store food in bear resistant containers.
FYI - Improper food storage in Yellowstone National Park can result in big fines!
Smelly items attract wild animals. Wildlife is not something that you should interact with, as it can jeopardize both your safety and theirs - even if the animal looks cute and cuddly. No one wants to get attacked by a bear because they left trail mix in their tent or have their car trashed for a few unsavory crumbs, right? These things happen, but when you practice proper food storage in bear country you'll be just fine.
It's your responsibility to respect nature and to be savvy with your food items while in Big Sky and the entire Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem - or anywhere for that matter. Montana is still wild. Go and experience it, but always camp responsibly. Please share this post about food storage in bear country with anyone you know that will be camping in and around Big Sky. Thanks!