The Wildlife Factor

Camping safety must include the wildlife factor or a trip can be ruined in just one night. This is especially for those just starting out as beginner campers.

You wake up after setting up camp the night before and you can't wait until that first cup of coffee hits the wake-up button.   However, in your rush to set up, you left your food supplies out and everything is on the ground or has mysteriously vanished.

Camping in the great outdoors to "get away from it all" only means you are trying to reduce or remove the human element from around you.  The great outdoors is the domain of the wildlife society and one of the basic instincts of all creatures great and small is not to go hungry.

Even while camping, there are some best practices to follow to minimize the wildlife factor on their terms.

There are four areas to follow when camping out in the wild:

            - Food storage

            - Food preparation

            - Cleaning up after a meal

            - Preventive measures

Food Storage

If you can drive up to your campsite, plan to keep the ice chest and all other food items locked away in your vehicle, especially at night.  The hours of operation of the Wildlife are fairly simple: sleep during the day and feed at night.

Campsite Safety

It should be noted that locking away the food, snacks, and other consumables is almost meaningless if windows are left down or cracked.  Once an animal figures out where the food is kept, they will then begin to claw or scrape their way in which can do a real number on your paint job!  Common sense should prevail here.

When survival camping, the art of disguising your presence in the forest should be #1 on your to-do list.

If hiking on the trail, the best bet is to store food in a sealable bag taking extreme care not to allow any drippings or crumbs to be on the outside.  Suspend the bag at least 10 feet above the ground and try to place it from a rope between two trees.  The key is keeping any food from contaminating the bag where it can be sniffed out by a hungry raccoon or larger animal.

Food Preparation

Campsite Safety

When cooking anything at your campsite, take special care to clean up any spills of grease or oils that spatter.  Take along some handi wipes and at the very least, wipe down your portable stove or cookware (including your table) at the end of every meal.  Other items to be careful with are the peels of vegetables or trimmed fat from meat.  Make sure this all goes into a garbage bag and take extra care not to touch the top or outside of the bag.  A garbage bag with a draw string or being able to place it into a "critter-proof" garbage can goes a long way into keeping unwanted visitors away.

Your fire pit or campfire is another area to be concerned about as well.  Things happen and a hot dog that rolled off the grill into the ashes during suppertime will be sniffed out.  Again, be mindful of your activities and take care not to drip or spill food or grease in or around your campfire.  Following all of these measures will reduce the wildlife factor to a minimum.

Cleanup after EVERY meal

Campsite Safety

As discussed above, all food scraps should be placed inside a garbage bag and never the top or outside of the bag.   Police the area after every meal for dropped food as well as any empty soda or other food containers that are empty.  If you have dogs and have fed them bones or other table scraps, try to keep track where they eat and if not everything was eaten, pick it up and dispose of properly.

When washing up pots and pans, be careful where you throw out your dishwater.  Drain off the water first at least 50 feet away from your campsite and dump any solids into a garbage bag.  This may mean frequent trips to a campground's waste removal area, but at least your campsite remains safe.

Preventive Wildlife Measures

Campsite Safety

Generally, the best way to keep animals from an unwanted visit is to clean up after any meal or snack.  While not always possible, try not to eat in your tent at all.  Remember that animals use their keen sense of smell to find food and it is your job that there is nothing for them to get wind of.

The above information on the wildlife factor is provided in the hopes of having a safe camping trip.

If you have any questions regarding camping safety or the wildlife factor, email us using the Contact Us page.

› Wildlife Factor