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Campfire Bear Scare?

Do campfires deter bears?

Question:

Do campfires deter bears?

Submitted by - Steven, Irving, TX

Answer:

Campfires, as warm, cozy, and safe as they make us feel, will not deter bears.  But loud, off-key singing around a campfire will.

The fact is, bears don’t want an encounter with us any more than we want one with them. And noise is the best deterrent.

As far as encounter prevention goes, a clean camp is a must. If you’re in active bear country, the best way to protect yourself and your food is a bear canister. Hanging/bear-bagging is such a pain in the butt (I never can seem to find the perfect tree setup), but bear cans are pretty much foolproof—just stow your stuff inside the airtight, waterproof containers, and place them on the ground a couple hundred feet (about 70 adult paces) away from camp.

Many parks are now requiring that you pack canisters because bears in so many areas have become savvy at getting food bags out of trees. Wild Ideas  makes the lightest (under 2 pounds), albeit most expensive ($225 for the  medium size) bear cans out there. Bearvault and Garcia Machine www.backpackerscache.com canisters are twice the weight, but way cheaper (only $80). 
 
Bears coming into your camp to look for food is one thing; encountering them on the trail is another.

Need more? Get survival schooled on how to fend off a bear and use a bear canister in our highly acclaimed videos:

video icon Fend off a Bear

video icon Use a Bear Canister

video icon Hang a Bear Bag

—Kristin

1 Comment

  1. Patrick

    Not that confirmation is needed but I live very close to the Smoky Mountains and go there several times a year for backcountry fun. Last year I actually pitched my tent at the base of a tree that had three black bears in it (unknowingly at first). I was the only person using the site and kinda got the willies. So after moving my tent I decided to make a big fire in hopes that it would frighten the bears away. It did not. They eventually left but were clearly not bothered at all by me or the fire.

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