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Q: Is it necessary to bear bag freeze-dried food if the package is not opened?—Rob, via email
A: You humans…always wanting to take the easy way out. Truth is, even if a package of freeze-dried food hasn’t been opened, there are a few reasons why you’ll want to store it in a bear bag or canister anyway.
The first is the pure acuteness of my nose. I smell up to seven times better than a bloodhound, and 2,300 better than you. Plain and simple, I possess one of the most powerful noses on earth, and I can detect scents through all manner of odor barriers. Packages come in variable grades, and not all are odor-proof. Plus, it’s likely you stored your packaged food with snacks or other things that might leave a scent for me to investigate on the exterior.
Even if you buy and use a high-grade, 100-percent-odor-proof bag, there are some compelling reasons not to skip the canister or bear bag. My naturally curious nature means I might investigate a freeze-dried package anyway, and the situation gets worse if I’m a habituated bear with any experience or contact with humans. I might’ve learned that humans carry around various packages that contain tasty goodness, and I may attempt to investigate them regardless of smell. Better not to give me any chance of finding a reward—it’s bad for you, and potentially catastrophic for me.
So remember: Bag it or can it. I know it can be a pain in the butt, but if you can cut a bear a break and go that extra step, I’m way appreciative. I’ll reward you by keeping my distance and sticking to fish and berries—where you can hopefully see me from afar.
Got a question for the bear? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.