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Bear safety tips

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

A fun weekend camping with your family and friends can turn tragic if you do things that lure bears into the area where you're camping.

Keeping your campsite and cabin area clean — and not leaving food out where a bear can get it — are the keys to staying safe in black bear country

Keeping your campsite and cabin area clean — and not leaving food out where a bear can get it — are the keys to staying safe in black bear country.

Photo by Lynn Chamberlain

Fortunately, it's easy to keep bears away. Make sure you keep your campsite or cabin area clean and free of litter. And don't leave food out where a bear can get it.

John Shivik, mammals coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says black bears are the only bears that live in Utah. He says back bears are usually scared of people and will do anything they can to avoid us. "That can change, though," Shivik says, "if a bear starts to associate your campsite or cabin area as a place where it can get food."

Shivik says bears have an incredible sense of smell. And they have no problem eating the same kinds of food people eat.

Cut down the smells

The key to keeping bears out of your campsite or cabin area is cutting down on smells that might attract bears. Specifically, Shivik encourages you to do the following:

  • Store your food and scented items, such as deodorants and tooth paste, in areas where bears can't get them. Inside a trailer or in the trunk of your car are good choices.
  • Keep your cooking grill clean. And clean anything you used to prepare, eat or clean up food.
  • Keep your campsite or cabin area clean. Don't toss food scraps and other trash around.
  • 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 online.

Wild Aware Utah also provides information about bear safety.

A video, 'Camping in Bear Country,' is also available on the DWR YouTube channel.

You'll be helping others too

Shivik says by following these rules, you'll not only help yourself, you'll help others too.

He says a bear may not visit your campsite 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.

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