Camping in Bear Country

When you are camping, keeping a clean camp is the key to human safety and is the law in most U.S. Forest Service lands in northwest Wyoming. Bears have a highly evolved sense of smell and are strongly attracted to human food, garbage, livestock feed, and game meat. When a bear gains access to attractants in a camp, it is likely to become food-conditioned. Food-conditioned bears are less likely to avoid humans and can become destructive and even dangerous in their attempts to obtain human foods. A bear that has received a food reward from a camp will likely return or stay in the area and may become a problem for other people.


Campsite Safety: Never store attractants in your tent.

  • Store all food, garbage, and other odorous items inaccessible to bears.
  • If available, store attractants inside a vehicle, hard-sided campers, horse trailers, bear canisters, or bear boxes.
  • In the backcountry, store food, and coolers suspended from a tree at least 10’ to 15’ high and 4’ feet from the tree trunk.  Also, the sleeping area should be at least 100 yards away from food storage and the eating/cooking area.
  • All pet food and livestock should be stored properly stored.
  • Keep clothes worn while cooking stored with food and other attractants.
  • Burn all grease off camp stoves.
  • Wipe down the eating and cooking area after each use.
  • Do not bury garbage; bears will just dig it up.
  • Dispose of all garbage properly and pack out any remaining garbage.
Camping Safety

What to do if a bear comes into your camp:

  • Remain calm and do not panic. Bears generally avoid people and they are probably attracted to odors of food.
  • Get your bear spray or gun prepared for use.
  • Do not approach the bear.
  • Try to scare the bear away by yelling, shouting, banging on pots, or shooting off a gun.
  • If the bear does not get a food reward they will usually leave.
  • If a bear tries getting into your tent, fight back and use your personal defense.