Bears and Food

Black Bear walking.
Black Bear, NPS
Black Bear Safety
Bears are wild! Inviting them into your picnic or camp—on purpose or accidentally—can result in damage to your equipment, you, or the bear. Bears have great memories and can quickly become accustomed to human foods. Once habits form (i.e campgrounds provide food), a bear may become frustrated when food is no longer available. The "habituated" bear expects a reward (food) in exchange for a learned behavior (human encounters). A frustrated and hungry bear that seeks human encounters is dangerous. Wildlife managers, given no other options, may have to destroy the bear. Help save a bear and avoid personal injury by following these precautions:

Prevent a Black Bear Encounter
  • Use the campground bear-proof lockers for food and all scented items.
  • Dispose of garbage immediately in bearproof trash cans.
  • Carry a bearproof canister when backpacking. Keep a clean camp at all times.
  • Never feed bears.
If You Do Encounter a Black Bear
  • DO NOT RUN. Instead, face the animal, make noise and try to appear as large as possible.
  • If attacked, FIGHT BACK.
  • Please report any sightings to a park ranger.
  • If you witness an aggressive bear, immediately CALL 911.
Download an informative black bear safety brochure here.
Also available in Spanish, Vietnamese, and Khmer.

Last updated: November 20, 2017

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Crescent City, CA 95531


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