Hot weather could increase bear trouble for campers

Hot, dry conditions will cause bears to wander more this year. | Photo by Lynn Chamberlin, courtesy of Utah DWR.

ST. GEORGE – The hot, dry weather Utah is experiencing could increase the chance that a black bear wanders into your camp site or cabin area this summer.

John Shivik, mammals coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, said the dry conditions have reduced the amount of natural vegetation that’s available to the bears. Not having enough natural vegetation forces the bears to wander more in search of food. “The wandering they’re doing increases the chance that a bear will come into your camp site or cabin area this summer,” Shivik said.

Fortunately, Shivik said you can do several things to lessen the chance that a bear picks your camp site or cabin area as a place to wander into:

  • Store your food and scented items, such as deodorants and tooth paste, in areas where bears can’t get them. Inside a trailer or in the trunk of your car are good choices.
  • Keep your cooking grill clean. And clean anything you used to prepare, eat or clean up food.
  • Keep your campsite or cabin area clean. Don’t toss food scraps and other trash around.
  • Never feed a bear.

Bear safety tips

More tips on how to stay safe in bear country, including what to do if you encounter a bear while hiking, are available at

Wild Aware Utah also provides information about bear safety. You can access the information at

“Even if it isn’t a dry year,” Shivik said, “you should always follow these tips. Bears are always searching for food.”

You’ll be helping others too

Shivik said if you follow these rules, you’ll not only help yourself, you’ll help others too.

He said a bear may not visit your campsite while you’re there. But the food you leave out and the litter you leave behind could bring a bear to that same area after you leave. And that could create a serious problem for people who camp in the area after you.

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