Strategies of Backcountry Bear Avoidance and Securing Food

One of the essential aspects of hiking in any region with a substantial bear population is storing and disposing of food properly. Doing so not only prevents bears from getting into one’s personal items in search of food but also helps avoid a situation of bears losing their preference for foraging in the wild. Once bears start approaching people and human habitation regularly as a food source, they can develop unpredictable, aggressive, and potentially dangerous behavior. This creates a public health risk scenario that can easily lead to the ”problem” bear being euthanized.

One other thing to be aware of is that bears have a keen sense of smell and a very large appetite and consider many non-food items as potentially nourishing and thus worth going after. With an olfactory bulb (that section of the brain that identifies odors and scents) five times larger than humans, they can smell food from miles away. In addition, the bear’s nasal cavity is significantly larger than that of people and contains a honeycomb structure with millions of scent receptors. Compounding this, bears have long memory and can return to places where they found food years ago. They are known to target not only canned and bottled items but also non-food items such as bug repellant, sunscreen, fuel, soaps, and cosmetics.

Original Published on Medium at Nov 2, 2023