Does Sunscreen or Bug Repellent Attract Bears?

Q: Does using sunscreen or bug repellent attract bears?

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Does using sunscreen or bug repellent attract bears?

Submitted by – -Mark, Hays, KS


This is going to involve a little guesswork, so keep that in mind. As far as I know, bears have never been observed showing any interest in DEET or picaridin.

They have been observed showing curiosity about citronella-based products, and conceivably might be interested in other herbal-type repellents.

Bears have never been observed showing interest in sunscreens either—but they might if it smells unusually tasty. Bears are naturally curious and almost always hungry, but it is not likely a bear that found insect repellent or sunscreen interesting stuff to sniff would then follow up with an attack on the wearer.

So, here’s my main guess: if you follow bear precautions, you should not be especially attractive if you’re using sunscreen or chemical bug repellents because they don’t smell like food. But still, wash it all off before bed. —Buck