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Reconnecting with nature takes many forms. Some of us do it by packing only the bare essentials and camping simply. Others bring the AC, grill, and satellite television with them. Whatever your style, we’re guessing your version of “reconnecting with nature” doesn’t involve waking up to find a bear rummaging through your food. Wildlife encounters are something every camper should think about, no matter how you choose to camp. Nothing ruins a perfectly enjoyable camping trip quite like waking up to find a raccoon on your chest. Here’s how to avoid “reconnecting with nature” a little more intimately than you’d like. Follow these four easy steps to make your campsite a wildlife-free zone on your next trip. ‌

Pack the right stuff

Packing the right safety equipmentIf you want to reliably keep animals away from your campsite, you have to pack the right stuff. First, make sure you have sealable, airtight containers for all the food you’re bringing along. Tupperware, coolers, and resealable bags all keep animals from smelling your food and coming to take it. Next, bring airtight plastic bags for all of your clothing. You’ll need to change clothing after you cook, and put your “cooking clothes” in their bags. Maybe most importantly, you’ll need to bring resealable plastic garbage bags. Ideally, you’ll bring an airtight container to store these garbage bags in, too. Managing your garbage efficiently isn’t just good camping etiquette; it’s also essential for keeping wildlife away. Finally, make sure you pack all the basics for camping safety, too. Bring flashlights, hiking boots, mosquito netting, bug spray, a fire extinguisher, and rain gear. Having the supplies you need will help you have a great time camping, and they’ll keep you safe, too. ‌

Stay out in the open

Camp out in the openWhen choosing a campsite, make sure you choose a location that’s out in the open. It shouldn’t be too close to water, heavy foliage, or a hiking path. Obviously, water and heavy foliage are wildlife habitats. Many animals also use hiking trails as a means of easily traversing their hunting grounds. When campers encounter wildlife, it’s usually because that wildlife wandered into their camp without noticing them. Building your campsite out in the open makes you easy to notice and avoid. The ideal campsite will be a flat, open area with no grass (or low grass) under an open sky. Make sure there’s a tree nearby, so you can hang food from it. Staying somewhere without grass makes you easier to see and helps you avoid snakes. Use this campsite as a place to sleep and store your supplies. When you cook food, do so at least 200 feet away from the campsite. Avoid bringing food back to the clearing if possible. ‌

Clean your campsite

Keep your campsite cleanKeeping a clean campsite is the single most important thing you can do to prevent wildlife encounters while camping. Animals wander into campsites because they smell something they’re curious about. Usually, it’s food, but it could be anything the animal isn’t used to smelling out in the wild. Deodorant, perfume, dirty clothes, coffee, and especially cooking fires can all draw in wildlife if you leave it out. Clutter and garbage like empty bottles and cans smell enticing to bugs and animals, too. As a general rule, you should keep your campsite clean enough that you could be ready to leave with little notice. Thoroughly clean and put away any cooking equipment as soon as you’re finished with it. Gather up and dispose of garbage after every meal. Don’t leave anything sitting out around your campsite, or even in your tent. Have a place for everything and keep everything in its place. Consider taking inventory every day to make sure you’re not forgetting anything. ‌

Conceal your food

Don't cook or store food where you campYou may have noticed a theme in each of these suggestions. Your overall goal is to make sure animals don’t want to come to your campsite in the first place. If animals aren’t interested in what you’re doing, they’ll leave you alone. The best way to do that is to make sure they can’t see or smell your food. Food is the #1 reason why animals investigate campsites. That hot dog you’re cooking smells just as good to them as it does to you. First, you should never cook at your campsite. Take all your food somewhere else before cooking it, and dispose of it before you return. You shouldn’t even store your food around your campsite. Consider hanging all your food supplies from a tree at least 50 feet away from your camp. Whether or not you keep food on-site, make sure you store it in airtight containers. Remember: if you can smell your food, so can wildlife.   These tips are obviously camping-focused, but the idea behind them is applicable all the time. Preventing wildlife disaster means making sure they want as little to do with you as you do with them. Cleaning up, concealing food smells, and staying organizing will keep you safe from animals, whether you’re camping or not. Another way to keep safe from wild animals: give Varment Guard a call whenever you have trouble. Our wildlife control experts have the training and tools required to solve your problems and keep you safe, permanently. Have a great (and safe!) camping trip!

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