|Camping in Bear Country
The cleanliness of your campsite will largely determine your relationship with bears in the back country. If you arrive at a campsite with bear tracks, droppings, or garbage scattered around the site, try to find another campsite. These are sure signs that bears have made the connection between campers and food.
Food and other items with an odor, including candy, toothpaste, suntan lotion, and soap, should be stored in sealed containers. If you are camping near your vehicle, store the containers inside (won't work in rigs with bikini top) until you are ready to use them. Away from more secure storage facilities, food should be suspended in a "bear bag" that is at least 12 feet above the ground and 10 feet from the nearest tree trunk. Never store food or candy in your tent or sleeping quarters.
After meals, you should store all wanted leftovers and then wash dishes immediately. Dump the dishwater away from camp or use a sump hole to filter the water, and then burn the food scraps. In addition, burn all leftover food, wrappers, and grease.
Thoroughly wash and pack out any cans or bottles. If your clothes have food or grease on them, do not bring them into the tent with you.
Black bears should be respected but not feared. Most are timid enough to be scared away by yelling, waving, or banging pots or cans. If this does not work, chasing the bear out of your campsite before he settles in to consume your food may save your vacation. Be sure the bear has a clear escape route and then yell, wave, and rush toward the bear, but no closer than 15 feet. This tactic is especially
effective when several people cooperate. Females with cubs may be more nervous than other bears and should be treated cautiously.
Capsaicin, sprayed in the eyes, has been used effectively to repel bears that are reluctant to leave or who approach too closely. Capsaicin is derived from cayenne peppers and has long been used by mailmen to repel aggressive dogs. In more than 200 trials, no bear indicated any sign of aggression after being sprayed, sometimes repeatedly. Most immediately turned and ran, stopping eventually to rub their eyes. There is no lasting injury to the animal.
Pepper spray is used in Africa tp fend off lions as well - see this hilarious warning post !