Algonquin Park

Camping: What about the bears?

Food Barrel vs BearThere are black bears in Algonquin Park, although most people never see them, especially if they take a few simple precautions. For a good overview on bears, their behaviour and strategies for camping in areas they inhabit, check out the Algonquin Park bear page, the Black Bear page from The Science Behind Algonquin’s Animals and the Bear Wise Home Page.

Bears are very intelligent animals and can figure out most “bear-proofing” systems. In Algonquin Park, hanging food packs or barrels is probably the most popular method and has proven to be most reliable. However, it must be done properly and care should be taken to reduce food odours, which is what attracts animals in the first place.

Many people use so-called “barrel packs” for food storage on canoe trips. These are 30 or 60-litre industrial-grade plastic shipping containers with a custom backpack-style harness. We rent and sell these packs. Though some folks claim these are bear-proof, we guarantee they are NOT BEAR-PROOF! They keep most small critters out and are water-tight, so they do a very good job of protecting food and containing odours. However, a clever raccoon can open barrel pack and, as you can see from the picture to the right, bears can easily claw or chew through them.

Keeping your campsite clean and free of food scraps discourages unwanted wild visitors; even cute chipmunks and mice can become pests! Always hang your food pack in a tree (10-13 ft. off the ground and 6-7 ft. out from the trunk) to ensure that animals like bears and raccoons don’t get in.