Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Bitterroot National Forests to Implement Food Storage Order

Release Date: May 30, 2014

Contact(s): Leona Rodreick

Forest Supervisors Melany Glossa of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and Julie King of the Bitterroot National Forest will be expanding existing food storage requirements beginning June 1 of this year. The signing of a new special order for food storage will supersede existing orders for the Madison Ranger District and expand the areas requiring food storage to the entirety of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness Area managed by both the Bitterroot and Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forests.

When implemented, all of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and the Anaconda Pintler Wilderness will be covered by food storage requirements. To allow people time to adjust to the new requirement, Glossa has asked Forest Service law enforcement officials to focus on education over enforcement.

In reference to the increased education over enforcement, Forest Supervisor Glossa stated, “Our primary goal is to protect humans and bears. Second to that objective is to ensure people understand the new special order, where it applies, and what facilities have been made available to them.” “The Forest has taken measurable efforts to increase awareness, education and infrastructure, such as food storage boxes and equipment to check out for free at Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF Offices, all of which serve to minimize the conflicts between humans and bears, which should increase public safety on the forest.”

General Content of New Food Storage and Sanitation Order: From March 1 to December 1 of each year, all food and other items that might attract bears must be stored where bears can’t access them at night and during the daytime when food and attractants are not attended. ‘Attended’ means that a person is physically present within 100 feet and in direct sight of the food or carcass. While attended, food and attractants do not have to be stored.

The following items must be properly stored: Human food, (including canned food, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages), harvested game animals and parts, pet food, processed livestock feed and grains and personal hygiene items such as soap, toothpaste and deodorants. This also includes garbage and empty food and beverage containers.

Proper storage methods include: Proper storage methods include placing food and other items in bear resistant containers or securing them in a hard-sided vehicle or suspending them at least 10 feet above the ground and four feet from any vertical support.

Bear resistant containers include: Bear resistant containers include the heavy metal boxes placed in campgrounds and other approved containers such as bear resistant horse panniers and backpackers’ containers that are certified through the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee Courtesy Inspection Program. Approved panniers and backpackers’ containers can be loaned out from any Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF office. NOTE: Plastic or metal food coolers, backpacks and leather or canvas horse panniers are NOT bear resistant.

Storing game meat and parts can be accomplished as follows: Harvested big game animals and game animal parts must be at least 100 yards from a sleeping area, recreation site or National Forest System trail. Small game (birds and mammals) and fish should be stored in a similar manner to other food products. Game meat may be left unattended on the ground, but must be at least one-half mile away from any sleeping area or recreation site and at least 200 yards from a Forest Service System Trail.

When burning refuse: Anything that has not been consumed by campfire must be packed out.

Use of electric fencing: Electric fencing approved by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee is allowed. IGBC approved products can be found on the internet at

Death of livestock: Should be reported within 24 hours of discovery to the nearest Forest Service office.

When camping: Camping and sleeping areas must be established at least one-half mile from a known big game animal carcass on the ground or at least 100 yards from a properly stored big game animal carcass.

For more information on the content of the new special order, go online to and click on “Bear Country Safety Information,” or call the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest at (406) 683-3900.