Bear Awareness Encouraged for Campers and Hikers

Aggressive Bear

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department of Natural Resources is encouraging campers and hikers in Colorado to remain “bear aware” to remain safe when venturing into the state’s great outdoors.

“The majority of the time, bears are not after you, they are after food,” said Area Wildlife Manager Mark Lamb.  “Understanding bear behaviors and being aware of what steps you can take to avoid bears from approaching you is an important part of recreating responsibly in bear country,” said Mark.

The majority of bears are naturally wary of people rather than aggressive according to wildlife experts. Conflicts between people and bears are often a result of easy access to food, trash and other strong odors that attract bears.

Some of the most simple ways to avoid bears when camping is to ensure that a campsite does not have anything that will smell and attract them. Additionally, if a bear tries to enter a campsite the best way to scare the bear away is to try to haze it away with loud noises such as yelling, banging pots and pans together or using a car horn or air horn.

Tips for remaining bear-aware when camping are as follows:

  • Safely store food, beverages and toiletries in campsite lockers called bear boxes (if provided), in bear-proof containers away from your tent or, as a last resort, locked in the trunk of your vehicle.
  • Stash your trash. Put all trash in bear-proof trash receptacles or bear canisters; treat your trash as if it is food – to bears, there is no difference. 
  • Keep a clean campsite. Scrape grill grates after use and clean used dishes. Store used dishes and utensils just as you would your food.
  • Never bring food or anything that smells like food – which includes toiletries, sunscreen and even the clothes you wear when cooking – into your tent. All of these items with scents should be stored away from your tent.
  • Lock cars and RVs whenever you leave your site and at night. Ensure all windows are tightly closed.

Tips for staying bear-aware when backpacking and hiking are as follows:

  • Stay alert at all times. Leave your headphones back at your campsite, be extra cautious at dawn and dusk, and pay closer attention to areas with noise from running water or heavy winds.
  • Keep dogs leashed at all times.
  • NEVER feed or approach a bear. 
  • Double bag food and pack out all food waste (including apple cores or banana peels) to avoid encouraging bears to see trails as a food source. 
  • Respect forage areas. If your usual trail runs through berry patches, oak brush or other known food sources, be extra vigilant. Make extra noise by periodically clapping or calling out to alert bears to your presence.

“Being smart about how you store your food, using bear boxes and bear-resistant canisters, and locking your property keeps you safe and can save a bear’s life,” said Mark.

For more information regarding how to be “bear aware”, visit

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