Do not leave food unattended on your campsite or anywhere else, while camping. Always clean up and put food away after every meal. In the summer of 2010 while camping at Algonquin Park, I could not get over how sloppy many campers have become. I saw food and coolers left unattended by campsite picnic tables during the day. In fact some campers left their coolers out overnight. Some campers even stored their coolers in their tents. While camping at Lake of Two Rivers, I heard other campers yell “bear” or honk their car horns to scare off bears on three of six nights. The black bears were attracted to the campground because there were irresponsible campers who did not follow the rules and stow their food properly. Here are some tips to ensure that you do not spend your camping trip dining with raccoons, chipmunks, bears and other animals from the forest:
Stow Food: Food should always be stowed away in airtight coolers and containers that are then locked in your vehicle or RV when not in use. Do not leave exposed food unattended, and never eat or store food, soap, toothpaste, or anything else that has a fragrance in your tent. If you are backcountry camping, your food should be stored in airtight containers and hung from a tree, twelve feet off the ground, to ensure inaccessibility to wild animals.
Storage Containers: Use a large plastic storage bin to store all dry and canned food on car camping trips. Any food that is not in your cooler should be stored in this bin. These containers are weatherproof and seal out the scent of food reasonably well. Store these containers along with your cooler in your vehicle when not in use. Use Tupperware or ziplock bags to store unwrapped food products.
Clean Kitchen: Your dishes, cookware and cutlery must be washed after every meal. Clean up all food scraps and wipe up all food crumbs and grease immediately after every meal. Ensure that all tins, plastic, and other disposable containers used for food are rinsed and bagged immediately. Bag all organic waste in sealed bags and dispose of it in the dumpster daily.
Canned and Dehydrated Meals: Consider canned and dehydrated meals on your camping trips as these meals release less odour then fresh food when in storage.
Do Not Feed Wild Animals: In Ontario, it is against the law to feed wild animals, and you can be fined for doing so. Feeding wild animals causes them to lose their fear of humans, and this can create dangerous situations.
Some campgrounds have a policy to fine sloppy campers who do not keep a clean campsite. This is an excellent policy when it is enforced for two reasons. One, it keeps the campground safe for all to enjoy. Two, it helps to prevent the problem of bears scavenging for food on campsites. Once this happens, bears lose their fear of humans and will need to be captured and destroyed. Leave no trace of any meal on your campsite at any time! If you keep a clean campsite, the wild animals will dine elsewhere. A clean campsite is a safe campsite for you and the wild animals.