Bear Safety and Food storage Information

Bears are Out Now!

The Lolo National Forest is home to both black and grizzly bears. Depending on the weather, location and other factors, bears in Montana may be out of their dens from mid-March through into November. Stay Bear Aware!Black bear munching on grass

Safety Around Bears

Mountain bikers, trail runners, and other recreationists take note and read this detailed information on recreating in bear country! When you are on the trails, expect bears to be present. Moving quickly on a trail increases your chance of surprising a bear.

  • Expect bears to be present
  • Carry bear spray attached to you and readily accessible
  • Make noise and slow down
  • Avoid evening/early morning
  • Avoid going alone

During a grizzly bear encounter:

  • Stop. Do not run. If on a bike, get off, keeping your bike between you and the bear.
  • If the bear charges—stand your ground, use your bear spray.
  • If the bear makes physical contact—protect your head and neck, play dead, use your bear spray.
  • Visit Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee Bear Safety page for more on recreating in grizzly country.

Grizzly Bear

Visit the following links to learn more about how to be safe in bear country. 

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks - Be Bear Aware

 Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks - Living with Grizzly Bears

Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee – Bear Safety / Bear Pepper Spray

Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee - Certified Bear-Resistant Products

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service -Tips for Living and Recreating in Grizzly Bear Country

Food Storage Orders and Information

Proper storage of food, garbage and other attractants is important to keeping you and future visitors safe. Although aggression toward people and human injury is rare, incidents may occur during a surprise encounter, the protection of cubs, a defense of a food cache, or when bears have become accustomed to obtaining food associated with humans.

A food storage order signed in 2011 requires food storage practice across the Forest to reduce the potential for human-wildlife encounters. View and print the Lolo NF food storage fact sheet

Food, carcasses, and attractants must be stored in a bear-resistant container or stored in a bear-resistant manner if they are unattended. In the front country (most of the Forest) these same items must also be stored in camp at night, unless they are being consumed, prepared for transport or storage. In some limited backcountry areas on the Ninemile and Seeley Lake Ranger Districts during the night these items may be attended instead of stored. For specific information on the new order and to view specific locations of backcountry and frontcountry areas for each district, please see the food storage order and map.

Photo of a grizzly bear

“We know that unattended food or attractants, or food that is not stored properly, often leads to an encounter with wildlife – whether that is a deer or a black bear or a grizzly bear. And when you have a wild animal and a human in that situation you have the potential for harm to both – food storage is the best and easiest way to address something that is entirely preventable.”

-- Lolo National Forest Wildlife Biologist Lorraine Brewer

Approved Storage:

A bear resistant container that has been approved by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. Please see their
Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee - Certified Bear-Resistant Products web page. Most bear-resistant containers sold in local outdoor retail stores meet these requirements.

Stored in a bear resistant manner means hung 10 feet off the ground and four feet horizontally from a tree or other structure; stored in a hard-sided camper; vehicle trunk, or cab or trailer cab: in a hard-sided building, or stored using an electric fence.

Wildlife Carcasses:

Carcasses that are within a half-mile of any camp or sleeping area must be stored in an approved bear-proof manner during nighttime hours. If a carcass is within an attended camp during daylight hours it may be on the ground.

Burning Attractants:

Attractants are things like leftover food, bacon grease, etc. They cannot be buried, burned in an open campfire, or left behind in camp. All attractants must be stored in a sealed container and packed out with garbage – or placed in a container and burned so that the contents do not leach into the ground.

Store your food and attractants, livestock food and garbage in a bear-resistant manner or use a bear-resistant container


illustration of food hanging from a tree branch

Illustrations of food storage containers


Attractants such as leftover food, bacon grease, etc.

Any harvested animal carcasses, including fish, birds, or other animal parts that are within a half-mile of any camping or sleeping area must be stored. If an animal carcass is within an attended camp during daylight hours it may be on the ground.

Additional resources on bear-resistant containers: