New Food Storage Rules for Idaho Panhandle National Forests

Release Date: Oct 5, 2011

Contact(s): Jason Kirchner

Illustration of how to suspend food from a tree limbBeginning October 11, 2011, the Idaho Panhandle National Forests will require forest visitors on the Priest Lake, Bonners Ferry and portions of the Sandpoint Ranger Districts to store food items in a “bear resistant manner” and to properly dispose of wildlife attractants. The food storage order is intended to reduce human/wildlife conflicts resulting from readily available food sources and other attractants. 

Starting this October food storage requirements will be in effect from April 1 through December 1 on an annual basis. Food storage requirements differ slightly depending on location. In “backcountry” locations the order allows animal and fish entrails to be left in place in some situations while food items and other attractants must be packed out. In “front country” locations the order requires that all food items must be appropriately stored and all attractants including animal entrails must be packed out or disposed of in bear resistant garbage containers. In all locations the order requires the proper storage of food, refuse or other attractants. Examples of these items include human food, coolers, deodorant, toothpaste, cosmetics, garbage, lotions, game carcasses, pet/livestock food, empty and full food and beverage containers, etc.

The new order also defines appropriate methods for acceptably storing and acceptably possessing food, refuse and other attractants, including animal carcasses (i.e., hard-sided vehicles, hanging from a tree, use of Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee approved bear-resistant containers and methods, and appropriate methods for burning garbage). Forest visitors are strongly urged to visit the Idaho Panhandle National Forests food storage web page for a full version of the food storage order, and a map showing the areas affected. For more information on food storage requirements on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests please contact your local Forest Service office or visit