Food Storage

A large metal box for storing food and items saely from bears
Bear boxes are installed at most front-country camping facilities within the monument.

NPS / Gin Majka

Storing your food properly during your visit at Katahdin Woods and Waters is one of the most important steps you can take to protect the wildlife and keep yourself safe. Allowing any wild animal (including small critters like birds and chipmunks), to obtain human food, even once, can lead to aggressive behavior. Remember, do not share your food with wildlife.

Never feed wildlife.

Not only is this extremely dangerous for you and other visitors, it can also lead to the death of that animal. Animals don't need your handouts to survive, so keep your food to yourself and just enjoy the view!

Throw away your trash.

Pack it in and pack it out. Please don't leave your garbage, even if it's bagged, outside of a full trash can - just find another one or drive it out.

Don't leave food unattended.

Not even for a few minutes! Before going to sleep or leaving the area, store all of your food in a food storage locker (the brown metal boxes provided in some campgrounds and picnic areas), the locked trunk of your car, a bear-resistant canister, or a bear bag hung from a tree or bear pole. Do not bring scented items into the tent.
Note: Coolers do not count as proper food storage! Animals can quickly destroy them.

Properly store all other scented items.

This includes, but is not limited to: sunscreen, dirty dishes, utensils, soap, insect repellent, lip balm, toothpaste, deodorant, medications, and feminine products. As a general rule, if you put it in your mouth or on your skin, it should be stored along with your food. Also make sure not to put cooking grease or food scraps in fire rings.

Use a bear-resistant canister.

If no food storage options are provided in your campsite or picnic area, using a bear-resistant food canister is the preferred alternative. Store your canister on level ground at least 70-100 yards from your campsite. Do not place it near a water source, as bears may knock the canister around. Bears may also be able to carry canisters away if there are ropes are strings attached to them.

Hanging a bear bag (least recommended).

If no other food storage option is available, you'll need to hang a bear bag. We recommend using the metal food lockers provided first or a bear can before this option. This is not the recommended storage option because it is a time and labor intensive activity. You'll need 50-100 feet of rope and a waterproof bag big enough to hold all of your food and scented items. Bear bags need to be suspended at least 12 feet above the ground and 6 feet away from the trunk and branches of the tree. The woods here are dense and finding a tree that fits all the requirements can make properly hanging a bear bag difficult. If hanging a bear bag, prioritize this activity when you first arrive in your chosen campsite!

Last updated: September 29, 2023

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