Q: My husband and I are coming to visit you in Alaska this summer (yaaaay!!!). We are thinking of driving around and living in an RV during our visit, which means we would need to use our (ahem..) RV restroom from time to time. We would also be cooking a little bit on the RV kitchen stove.
We will definitely try to maintain a low odor profile, but there is a good chance of some smells lingering in our RV. Would you or your friends be attracted to the smells? We love you very much but what can we do to avoid any surprise visits from you?—Aruna Sitaraman, via email
You love me! You really, really love me! Nothing gets me all warm and fuzzy like enthusiasm for my kind. It’s reactions like yours that’ll help ensure I have a place to roam into the future. But now let’s tackle your RV question.
You already plan to reduce your odor profile as much as possible—that’s a good start. You’ll have to be extra diligent in Alaska, where there are more of me (three kinds!) than anywhere else in North America. This means never leaving food, trash, or other odorous items outside your RV at any time. Cooking is fine; just clean up as much as possible and avoid cooking hyper-smelly foods like fish (there’s plenty of great salmon and halibut restaurants in almost every Alaska town).
Store your food out of sight and in contained cupboards. Yosemite is famous for smart problem bears that can break into almost anything, and the rangers there allow you to store food overnight inside hard-sided RVs—provided windows, doors, and vents are closed when you’re not around.
It should also help that you’ll likely camp in RV campgrounds, which tend to be full of people who make noise and keep me away. That said, there are no guarantees: I may still be attracted to your RV, and I might investigate. Such intrusions are rare, even in Alaska, but they happen. In most cases, I’ll scratch and rub up against your RV for a while before moving on. If that happens, stay inside your RV, wait for me to leave, and be glad you paid extra for insurance.
Got a question for the bear? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.