12 camping items that can cause a bear attack

By Paul Johnson

Park Rangers at Rocky Mountain National Park, Yellowstone National Park and other regions where bears are common will tell anyone who will listen that leaving any food-related item in your car is asking for a bear attack. Even an empty candy wrapper is enough temptation to lure an inquisitive bear.

It is vital to do everything to reduce the chance of luring a bear to your car or campsite, if not for your safety then for the health of the bears. When the same bear is repeatedly seen in the same human area looking for food, many local laws call for killing the bear as a precaution. Thus, improper food disposal by irresponsible humans can directly lead to the premature death of a healthy bear.

To avoid such a situation, it is best to consider your use of some commons items that humans do not consider food, but whose smell is enticing to grizzly bears, black bears and, if you’re in northern regions, polar bears.

Camping and hiking gear that can lure bears due to their smell include:

  • toothpaste
  • shampoo
  • lotion
  • soap
  • cooking utensils
  • empty cans
  • wrappers
  • coolers
  • pet food
  • bird seed
  • garbage
  • petroleum products (including fuel)