Superior National Forest Managers Urge Visitors to be Bear Aware

Release Date: Jul 2, 2020

Contact(s): Trent Wickman

Duluth MN – July 2, 2020 –– Superior National Forest managers urge the public to learn and practice Bear Aware principles for the protection of both visitors and bears. There are several things that people can do to reduce the potential for unwanted bear encounters like the recent instances reported across the Forest.

Especially when camping, ALL food, cooking equipment, and garbage should be stored out of reach of bears or in a certified bear-resistant container. Be aware that bears may also find anything with a strong or sweet odor attractive such as toothpaste, lip balm, scented personal products, sunscreen, clothing with food odor, etc. A bear can smell food wrappers inside a tent. A clean campsite is much less likely to catch the attention of bears in the area.

Help protect yourself; learn and practice these important precautions:

  • After each meal, the dishes should be washed immediately at least 200 feet away from the sleeping area and water source. Kept camp stoves away from the tent area.
  • Toiletries, food and garbage should be placed in a bear-resistant container, out of reach by hanging the food pack from a high-line between two trees. The bag should be located at least twelve feet above ground and at least six feet from the trees on either side. Protect the trees in the process.
  • If in a dispersed site or developed campground, store these items in a hard-sided vehicle.
  • Do not count on a cooler to protect your food. Coolers are not bear-resistant containers. Bears can smell bottled beverages and food in plastic coolers from a few miles away. Once a bear is rewarded with food or something sweet in one cooler or tent, it learns to bite and tear into other tents and coolers.
  • Dispose of fish remains by traveling at least 200 feet away from campsites, trails, portages and shorelines.
  • Avoid leaving food unguarded at the canoe/boat landing or at the end of a portage. If it is not in a bear-resistant container, it is an easy target and can teach a bear to frequent high-use areas. Remember, bears swim from island to island.
  • If you do encounter a bear, most will be scared off if you make noise (shout, bang pots or throw fist-sized rocks at the bear, etc.). A very persistent bear may be discouraged by spraying pepper spray into its eyes.
  • For more information on hanging equipment techniques and precautions visit the Superior National Forest Bear Awareness Website at:

Residents in bear country must also be bear aware. Keep pet food secured in the house, remove bird feeders at night, and store garbage in a building or bear resistant trash containers. Once a bear learns that human food is easily accessible, the bear will elevate its efforts to get it; putting people and bears at risk. Once a bear is compromised, it is often killed, so prevention is key.

To learn more about safe living and camping or hiking in bear country, check out:

For more information on certified bear resistant products and bear safety tips visit the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee website at:


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