Camping is loads of fun but not if your camp is ravaged by a wild animal. Animals don’t know the difference between food naturally found in the wilderness or food at your campground – food is food to them. Since food is the main reason animals ever attack it’s important to treat food, and animals, a certain way while camping.
Some wild animals will approach humans in an attempt to get food that they smell. These animals may seem friendly but never, ever treat them like they are. Wild animals are unpredictable and can lash out at any time. For this reason, don’t offer to feed them from your hand or a dish.
Avoid offering any food to animals you see while camping because even the smallest animal, like a squirrel, can do some serious damage to a person’s face or limbs. Don’t even scrape leftovers, albeit a few yards away, for wilderness animals. This promotes future visits from even more animals. Dispose of food properly in a can with secured lid.
Locked boxes, kept at least a hundred feet from the campsite, is the best way to store food. You can store food in your car but be aware that large animals can damage your car, even if they can’t get to the food. Another option is to hang the food from a tree, by tying it up in a knapsack and using fishing twine for hanging. Many animals can climb trees but few can maneuver along fishing twine. And never keep any foods in the tent, even crackers or cookies. Snacks like that can still be smelled by passers-by and that can spell trouble if the animal is hungry enough.
Never try to pet or pick up a wild animal. Don’t try to make friends. That friend will turn on you in a split second. Kids especially have a longing to be near furry critters and they don’t realize the dangers of getting too close. Keep a good eye on children, of course, while camping, but talk to them about wild animals as well.
Don’t aggravate animals by poking at them with sticks, throwing rocks or other things at them, or trying to scare them away. Once the animal sees there is no food that is accessible he will wander away on his own. Trying to shoo him away can cause him to attack.
While walking or hiking, take a heavy stick with you. The stick should be the size of a walking stick. Use it for scaring away snakes and other critters while you walk. Rattle the leaves and tap trees as you walk along to scatter the animals out of your way. In case of attack, be prepared with bear spray or pepper spray, but use these only as a last resort. And, be sure to keep it in a holster on your side, not in a bag or backpack.
One of the best things about camping is that you get to see animals in their natural habitats but be careful and take precautions while doing so.