Food Storage Regulations
Proper food storage is not only essential to successful human-bear management, it is required legally (36 CFR 2.10(d)). Food includes food, trash, recyclables, toiletries, first aid kits, pet food, window cleaner, baby wipes, scented tissue, air freshener, soda cans, bottled beverages, canned food, coolers (full and empty), mosquito repellant, lipstick, tobacco products, and ANY RELATED ITEMS WITH A SCENT. When camping, baby seats should be taken out of the car and put outside.
Plan ahead to store your food in one of the following ways, listed in order of effectiveness. Be aware that there are areas of the park with more stringent regulations due to high levels of human-bear interactions and/ or injuries. Those areas are described in the next section.
*Don't leave food and containers (ice chests, bags, cans) in cars at the trailhead. You must use trailhead food-storage boxes if they are available. If not, contact a ranger for alternatives. Bears can break into vehicles if they see or smell signs of food.
Special Backcountry Restrictions
SEKI-approved bear-resistant food storage containers with the capacity to store all food are required from the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend through October 31 at the following locations:
These regulations apply to all groups. Through hikers along the Pacific Crest Trail and the John Muir Trail with a valid wilderness permit must use portable, park approved, bear-proof food storage containers or camp at sites with food storage lockers and use the lockers. Hanging food (e.g. counterbalancing) in restricted areas is prohibited until snow prevents access to food storage lockers.
If a Bear Enters Your Camp
By making loud noises and throwing objects you can often scare bears away before they get to your food. Be bold, but keep a safe distance and use good judgment. Never attempt to retrieve food from a bear. Never approach a bear or get near a cub. Bears are active both day and night. At night and any time you are away from camp, remove all food from your pack and store it properly. Leave your pack on the ground with flaps and pockets open. When you leave an area, take all your garbage with you. If a bear does get your food, you are responsible for cleaning up and packing out all debris, and for reporting it to the nearest ranger.
Note: 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 guidelines are followed. All bears in the Sierra Nevada are American black bears, Ursus americanus. This name can be misleading, as they may be black, brown, cinnamon, or even blonde in color. The last grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) in California was killed near Sequoia National Park in 1922. This information does not apply to parks inhabited by grizzly bears.
Last updated: March 31, 2012