Ask A Bear: Will Dryer Sheets Attract A Bear?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

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Q: We have a trip planned to Glacier in July, and will be in the backcountry. During the year I have dryer sheets in my tent and sleeping bag while being stored. Do I need to wash everything so the scent is gone, so as not to attract a Griz? Thanks,

—Steven, via email


A: This should be obvious, but I sure hope you were using Snuggle.

It’s true that I have one of the best noses in the animal kingdom—scientists report that I can sniff out practically odorless elk calves. All of which means I can probably detect the scent of dryer sheets on your tent and sleeping bags.

But keep in mind, you’re probably using dryer sheets in your laundry, which means I can smell the soft, fuzzy scent of Snuggle all over your clothes and body, too. [sniiiffffff]

Relax! Don’t panic. There’s not much evidence that I’m attracted to chemical, non-foodlike scents in the wild, and though overpowering scents like perfumes might engender my curiosity (especially if I’m habituated to people), something as mild as dryer sheet smell will probably just help me recognize you as human—something I usually want to stay away from.

If you wanted to be 100 percent safe, yes, you could wash off the dryer sheet scent. But in any case, don’t worry too much. A few days in the backcountry and you’ll cover that dryer sheet smell with your natural funk right quick.


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