One of the coolest things about camping is the fact that you may be sharing the habitat of more than a few wild animals — but it’s also one of the scariest things to think about. And because camping is all about respecting nature, it’s pretty important to make sure that while visiting any ecosystem, you don’t disrupt the lives of any permanent residents — especially those who are bigger, faster, and stronger than you.
We first turned to experts at the National Park Service to ask what kinds of foods would be most likely to attract bears and other animals, but the answer, it turns out, is a little too simple to break down: pretty much all of it.
“Bears are omnivores, consuming a variety of plant- and animal-based meals throughout the months that they are not hibernating,” says Kati Schmidt of the National Park Service. “When it comes to foods that are meant for us humans, ‘all of the above’ is the general answer for foods that may attract animals to your campsite.”
With that in mind, we’ve compiled the list of items that are most likely to, at the very least, make a bear or two quite curious about you.
The NPS recommends that you keep these things stored away, inside a bear-proof container, unless in immediate use. By the way, if you see a bear, the NPS asks that you keep a distance of at least the length of a football field, and it should go without saying, but never try to feed a bear.
Bottled Beverages, even Water
Drinks in cans and bottles, including water, may be worth opening for a foraging bear. Don’t take the risk of leaving them out in the open.
Shutterstock / Yuganov Konstantin
Even the items you brought with you to diminish the scent of humans is capable of getting an animal’s attention.