Division of Wildlife Resources offers bear safety tips

Published: Friday, May 17 2013 1:55 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — The state Division of Wildlife Resources is offering safety tips to prevent bears from being attracted to campsites so campers can avoid tragedy this summer.

Black bears, the only bears that live in Utah, are usually scared of people and will do anything they can to avoid humans, said John Shivik, mammals coordinator for the DWR.

“That can change, though, if a bear starts to associate your campsite or cabin area as a place where it can get food,” Shivik said.

Bears have an incredible sense of smell, he said, so recreationers should cut down on smells that might attract bears.

Some ways to do that include storing food and scented items, such as deodorants and toothpaste, in areas where bears can’t get them, such as inside a trailer or in the trunk of a car; keeping cooking grills clean and cleaning anything used to prepare, eat or clean up food; and never tossing food scraps and other trash around a campsite or cabin area. Also, never feed a bear.

More tips on how to stay safe in bear country, including what to do if when encountering a bear while hiking, are available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/learn-more/bear-safety.html. A video titled "Camping in Bear Country" is available on the DWR YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/UDWR.

Wild Aware Utah also provides information about bear safety at www.wildawareutah.org.

Shivik says a bear may not visit a campsite while campers are there. But the food and litter left behind could bring a bear to that same area after campers leave.

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