Bear Canisters Required in RMNP

Clever and dangerous bears spur canister requirements for overnight campers
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Clever and dangerous bears spur canister requirements for overnight campers

Bears like people food. They like it so much, in fact, that they chew through ropes to bring down bear bags, steal backpacks full of yummy snacks, and maul anything in your campsite that remotely smells of treats.

This rampant bear problem has left rangers in Rocky Mountain National Park with no choice: Beginning on Friday, May 1, all park overnighters will be required to carry a bear canister.

Touting the phrase "A fed bear is a dead bear" on their Web site, the park points out that once a bear develops a palate for human food, the animal often becomes a chronic problem and must be removed. Even the most experienced and well-meaning campers can run into bear trouble—in 2003, two men were seriously injured by a bear accustomed to rummaging for food even though they had stored it correctly.

Bear canisters aren't cheap—they can set you back anywhere from $50 to $80—and can take up precious room in your bag. They are generally pretty lightweight considering their durability, however, and are available to rent at sporting goods stores near trailheads, like The Warming House in Estes Park, for as little as $4.

Never used a bear canister before? Watch the experts at BACKPACKER keep hungry bears away from their food in this how-to video.

—Morgan Keys

Park requires bear-proof canisters for hikers (AP)

Image credit: Carly & Art