KETCHUM, ID – The Sawtooth National Forest is reminding visitors to be extra vigilant this summer when storing their food to avoid attracting black bears.
Bears possess an extremely keen sense of smell, and can find food from great distances. Once a bear finds food near humans, it is likely to come back. The result is a dangerous situation for both the bear and for people.
Campers can protect themselves and others from an unwelcome nighttime visitors by storing their food properly. In developed campgrounds, campers should store all food not in use in their vehicle, trailer or camper with windows tightly closed. Stoves, cooking utensils, personal items such as toothpaste, and pet or livestock feed should be protected in the same manner. Garbage should be disposed of in the bear-proof trash containers in all campgrounds and never left out unattended.
In the backcountry, food and garbage should be kept out of bears’ reach by hanging it in a tree, at least 100 yards from the sleeping area. Food bags should ideally be ten feet above ground and four feet out from tree trunks. Food can also be stored in an approved bear-proof container. Backcountry campers should attempt to reduce or eliminate food odors on themselves, their clothes, and near their sleeping area.
According to Sawtooth National Recreation Area Recreation Program Manager Susan James, bears are part of the landscape like deer and wildflowers, and a few simple precautions can make camping areas safe and enjoyable for bears and campers alike. “Black bears are remarkable animals; it is always a thrill for me to see one, but their well-being requires a little effort on our part.” James went on to say “it takes a small effort on our part to make sure food is properly stored, and it’s the only fair thing for the bears. When we condition them to expect food in campsites, we put ourselves as well as the bears in danger.”
For more information, please contact the Sawtooth National Recreation Area at 208-727-5000.