When planning your ATV camping adventure, you need to be properly prepared and knowledgeable if you’re selecting an area known for its bear habitat. Like any other area, having a good understanding of the hazards of the area is key to a safe trip. ATV camping in bear country is no different.

Proper preparation for ATV camping in bear country begins with the right gear and information for the trip. Always contact the local authorities about bear activity or other wildlife in the area. Bear deterrent pepper spray and proper food storage methods are critical components to have when planning your trip. Selecting the right campsite and proper operation of your campsite are also very important.

With proper use, bear deterrent pepper spray can be more effective than a firearm in diverting or stopping a charging bear. The effective ingredient in bear deterrent pepper spray is Oleoresin Capsicum, the chemical that makes hot peppers so hot.

A study in the April 2008 edition of the Journal of Wildlife Management examines “The Efficacy of Bear Deterrent Spray in Alaska.”  The study shows that in 72 cases where people use bear spray to defend themselves from brown, black and polar bears, the spray stopped brown bears 92 percent of the time and 98 percent of the people involved were uninjured.

Always read the manufacturer’s instructions for proper use. Used properly, bear spray will cause immediate burning and swelling of the eyes with temporary blindness to the charging animal. Symptoms can last 15 – 30 minutes which is enough time for you to get to a safe location on your ATV or on foot.

Upon arriving at a potential campsite always inspect it for any signs of bears visiting the area: torn-apart logs, tracks, trampled brush, scat, claw marks on trees, and dug up fire pits. If signs are are found it is recommended to move on to another site.

Once you find a campsite without any signs of bear, set up camp. Make sure your cooking area is at least 100 feet from your tent. The use of a bear-proof food storage container is recommended for camping food storage or properly hanging your food out of reach of bears and other wildlife. Do not store any food in your tent!

Keep the campsite clean of food scraps and garbage. Bears are naturally afraid of humans and ATVs. I am not aware of a bear attacking a moving ATV and rider. In the event of an encounter with a bear, use the noise of the revving ATV engine as a deterrent.

Bear attacks are extremely rare but are always a possibility when experiencing the outdoors. Proper preparation, your knowledge of bear behavior and recognizing bear signs are important for your safety and enjoyment when ATV camping in bear country.

This article originally appeared on CampingATV.net and is republished with permission.

Images courtesy ATVCamper

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