WildSafeBC and camping; how to stay safe and aware while enjoying the outdoors

Follow these recommendations from WildSafeBC for safe camping practices

WildSafeBC recommends inspecting the area around your campsite for signs of bears (scat, claw marks on trees, and fresh digging or tracks such as this one pictured) (Ethan Sarfeld File)

With the May Long weekend around the corner, adventurous residents of Kimberley-Cranbrook and the surrounding area are ready to start the Spring/Summer months off with a relaxing get-away to BC’s backcountry for their yearly camping rituals. If there is a designated campsite, use it, and any bear resistant strange options that are available.

Local WildSafeBC Community Coordinator for Kimberley Cranbrook, Danica Roussy said, “if you are in an undeveloped area, practice the triangle approach to setting up your camp.”

The triangle approach involves setting up your tent, cooking, and storage areas about 100 metres apart and in the form of a triangle.

“Where possible, food should be slung up by a rope system in an area inaccessible to bears (at least four metres off the ground and three metres from the nearest tree trunk,” said Roussy. “Always inspect your choice of camping area closely and make sure it is not in an area likely to be used by bears. It is best to camp away from waterways or other features that may be travel routes for wildlife.”

Roussy recommends the following dos and don’ts when camping:

Don’t store food, soaps, toothpaste or any other aromatic items in or near your tent. Don’t cook near your sleeping area, don’t feed any wildlife – ever, and don’t leave food in your camping area unattended.

Do store food in lockers provided or in the trunk of a vehicle. Do keep camping area clean and free of garbage or any form of attractants. Do dispose of grey water in designated areas, and do read and follow any notices posted by campground attendants.

Camping is a great way to enjoy nature and the outdoors, but WildSafeBC suggests a few simple rules campers should follow to keep themselves, and the wildlife, safe from conflict:

Inspect the area around your campsite and check for signs of bears (scat, claw marks on trees, and fresh digging or tracks).

Bears have long memories, your campsite may be clean now but if a bear received a reward there earlier, it may be back, so always be vigilant.

Never take food with you into your tent, not even a small snack. A bear has a great sense of smell and may investigate.

Cook in clothes other than those you will sleep in.

Use the bear-resistant food storage options provided by the campsite. If none are available, keep your food in the trunk of a vehicle or in a hard-sided RV.

Campsites should be free of all attractants whenever you are not present. This means when you go for a hike, a walk to the beach, the bathroom, or are otherwise absent from the immediate area.

Do not feed any wildlife. This includes squirrels, birds, raccoons, and other animals. The feed that attracts them is also a powerful attractant for bears.

Listen to your Park Attendants. They have far more experience in dealing with bears than the average visitor. Their goal is to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable camping experience.

“Remember, if you need to report a sighting or conflict with wildlife, please call the Conservation Officer,” said Roussy.

The Conservation Officer Service can be reached at 1-877-952-7277. You can also find more information on the WildSafeBC website at wildsafebc.com.

WildSafeBC acknowledges and appreciates the support of the Provincial Government, The Columbia Basin Trust, the Cities of Kimberley and Cranbrook, and the Regional District of East Kootenay.

– With files from Danica Roussy.