Food Storage Guidelines
Last updated: April 14, 2015
Bears have a voracious appetite. They also are incredibly curious and have an amazing sense of smell. This combination sometimes leads them to look for our calorie-rich food. Sometimes bears that routinely get our food become aggressive, and may have to be killed as a result. By storing your food properly, you can prevent a bear's needless death.
"Food" includes any item with a scent, regardless of packaging. This may include items that you do not consider food, such as canned goods, bottles, drinks, soaps, cosmetics, toiletries, trash, ice chests (even when empty), and unwashed items used for preparing or eating meals.
Food, garbage, coolers and equipment used to cook or store food must be kept sealed in a vehicle or in a camping unit that is built of solid, non-pliable material such as a camper or closed trailer. Food must never be left unattended unless it is properly stored. Please pick up food scraps around your site, dispose of them properly and wipe down tabletops after eating. Place trash in the provided garbage receptacles, do not leave trash unattended at your campsite.
If tent camping in the backcountry, when ever you are not preparing or eating food it must be stored properly. It is recommended that you use the standard method of hanging your backpacks and food sacks. Find two tree about 30 feet apart with limbs 15 - 20 feet tall. Throw a rope across the limbs and allow enough slack to attach your packs. Once attached, pull the rope tight and the packs should stabilize high enough where a bear cannot reach. Cook your meals some distance from your sleeping area and do not sleep in cloths you have cooked in.
You may not see a bear during your visit because bears naturally avoid people. If you do see a bear, what you should do depends on the situation. In any case, always let a ranger know or leave a message at 423-569-9778.
If you are in a developed area (e.g., campground, parking lot), act immediately to scare it away: make as much noise as possible by yelling or banging pots together (don't worry about waking people up if it's nighttime). If there is more than one person, stand together to present a more intimidating figure, but do not surround the bear. However, never get between a mother and her cubs.
The intent is not to harm the bear, but to scare it from the area and restore its natural fear of people by providing a negative experience.
If you see a bear anywhere else, keep your distance (at least 50 yards), don't run, or look at it in the eyes. Yell at it, making yourself appear as big as possible . If you get close to the bear, you will be helping the bear become used to being around people.
Bears that become comfortable around people lose their natural fear of us and sometimes become too aggressive; sometimes they then have to be killed.
Please Note: If a bear does get into your food, you must report the incident to a park ranger. These regulations and precautions help decrease the chance of personal injury or property damage. However, bear damage and confrontations are still possible even when all of the above guidelines are followed. Failure to comply with these regulations may result in a citation.
Last updated: April 14, 2015