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March 22, 2023 4 min read

A bear surrounded with camping gear at a campsite

The beauty of camping is the full immersion into nature. However, it comes with certain risks, such as unexpected wildlife encounters. The campsite can be visited by smaller species, such as raccoons, as well as by big ones, like bears. Read ahead to find out how to keep animals away while camping.

Best Practices to Keep Your Camp Safe from Wildlife

While there is no way to eliminate the possibility of animals coming around your camp, there are universal rules you can follow to minimize the likelihood of this happening:

1.Do Your Research

Before you head out for your trip, it’s best to research the area where you will be camping. No matter if you are going wild camping or planning to stay in a well-developed campsite, the risk of animal visitors coming around is always there. Reading about the species common for a specific area will help you prepare and pack accordingly.

2.Pick a Good Camping Spot

A bear trying to get inside a tent in search for food

Another measure you can undertake to animal-proof your outdoor stay is to select the camping spot wisely.

A flat, open area with low or no grass will keep insects and snakes away. Besides, it will be helpful if an animal comes wandering in. Enclosed spaces can make an animal feel trapped and trigger aggression.

Don’t camp too close to water sources - they attract bugs and animals that come there to drink. Also, avoid close proximity to any trails.

3.Store the Food Safely

One of the most critical factors in your protection from wild animals while camping is the proper storage of food. Animals are far more sensitive to smells than humans, so the scents of edible products left outside can draw unwanted visitors to your campsite.

Here are some rules you should follow to ensure a safe camping experience:

  • Bring a locking cooler.Store your food in a cooler that has a lock. Wrap the cooler with a rope for additional protection. It’s best to hang the cooler on a tree at least 20 feet off the ground and 8 feet away from the trunk to keep it safe from snakes, raccoons, bears, and skunks.
  • Usebearcanisters. These extra-durable hard-sided food lockers are perfect for foods that are not easily perishable. Note that they are included in the camping requirements in a number of national parks.
  • Take dishwashing seriously. It’s vital to wash your cooking supplies before and after use since rodents, such as rats and mice, often come to campsites to scavenge on food scraps and leave germs behind.
  • Avoid strong smells. If you are camping in an area that has a high risk of animal encounters, avoid preparing food with strong scents, such as meat and fish, as it can catch the attention of dangerous predators from miles away. Instead, opt for freeze-dried food and other specialized camping snacks.

Also, never eat inside your tent because the smell can linger, and don’t leave food unattended even for short periods.

4.Maintain the Area Clean

A bird on an outdoor table looking for leftovers

This is yet another rule of thumb that all campers who wonder how to keep wild animals away while camping should know. It’s also a part of the Leave No Trace principles that are fundamental to every outdoor enthusiast.

Besides, even if you know that the campsite has garbage containers, always bring heavy-duty odor-proof waste bags with you. If there are no containers available, double-bag the trash and hang it on the same level as the cooler. Burying or burning the garbage is not an option due to the negative effects these methods have on the environment.

5.Bring Repellents

Two raccoons behind a cooler in a forest

Don’t neglect using eco-friendly repellents with natural active ingredients, like Critter Ridder. Such repellents are easy to apply and have a long-lasting effect that doesn’t harm the environment.

It was also noted that bears and other animals are deterred by the smell of ammonia and bleach. However, never mix these two substances together, as when combined, they produce fumes that are harmful to both animals and people.

6.Use Noise to Deter Animals

Another tip on how to keep predators away from a campsite is to use noisemakers. These are ultrasonic devices that produce sounds above a human hearing range at regular intervals.

However, the issue with this measure is that it loses effectiveness with time, as animals learn that the noise has no consequences. Thus, if you’re camping for extended periods, move the noise-making device regularly and change the sound intensity.

Human noise also helps keep animals at a distance, so traveling in groups is always recommended.

What Repels Insects?

A mosquito spiral placed in a camping table

Animals are not the only visitors that can bother campers. Outdoor traveling in the warm season goes hand-in-hand with a multitude of insect species. To keep these pests away, you can use the following repellents:

  • Citronella candles
  • Coffee grounds
  • Sulfur
  • Garlic
  • Rosemary
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Lavender

Fire is often helpful in scaring away some bugs as well. You can also use insect repellents that can be found in supermarkets to enhance the effect.

With this knowledge on how to keep animals away while camping, you will minimize the risks of unwanted animal encounters. Stay safe and enjoy the great outdoors!

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