Face-to-Face with Wildlife
One of the most exciting things about camping in the many natural wilderness areas around the country is the possibility of seeing wild animals in their natural environment. Imagine sitting outside as the sun comes up, the only sounds you hear are the birds chirping as you watch deer grazing in the distance. This is the way you want to commune with nature; unfortunately, you may also meet nature in a face-to-face encounter with a bear.
Most wild animals are afraid of humans, but hunger can help overcome those fears. If you hear about drought and fire danger on the news, you may find that the wild creatures are bolder than normal. Some simple precautions can help keep your RV from being attractive to animals.
Store all food carefully; do not leave food in coolers outside your rig. Bears have a wonderful sense of smell and will find those coolers during middle-of-the-night food raids. Limit food waste and dispose of it in bear-proof containers that are kept well away from your rig. You can also bury food waste, although be sure it is well away from water sources and from your rig.
Be especially careful when wild animals may be mating and giving birth. Generally most wild animals are afraid of humans, but this fear may be much less after giving birth. As with most new mothers, bears are very protective of their young and will attack if they feel threatened.
If you do find yourself face-to-face with a bear or large cat, wave your arms and yell loudly. You may scare a potential attacker off. If it is not prohibited, carry bear spray (similar to pepper spray) and keep it in hand. According to National Park Service rangers, it is very effective at close range.
If you bring along a pet, do not leave it outside alone or on hikes where you may encounter a hungry bear. A bear may be afraid of you, but your poodle, on the other hand, may look like a great snack.
The following tips are from the National Park Services program to teach children about camping in bear country, but they are commonsense tips for everyone:
Be a Noisy Hiker …
Sing, talk, wear a bell.
Give Bears Space …
Watch and photograph from a distance.
Respect a Bear's Meal …
Stay away from dead animals.
Keep a Clean Camp …
Cook and store food away from your camp.
Leave Your Dog at Home …
Bears and pets don't mix.
Don't be afraid to admit that the wilderness is not right for you. If you find yourself yearning for a vacation with more action and less nature, wilderness camping may not be your thing. Move to a campsite with more modern conveniences and enjoy your stay.