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Utah DWR Seeing More Reports Of Bear Encounters Than Last Year

It doesn’t take much to have a good time camping.

A place to sleep, a place to sit, and enough food and water.

But as the Bayliss family picked out their spot in Little Cottonwood Canyon Wednesday afternoon, there’s something else they brought with them; experience.

Especially in bear country.


“I wouldn’t leave anything out. We definitely keep our food stored in our car when we’re not around,” said Tyler Bayliss while setting up camp in Tanners Flat.

Bayliss knows how easy it is for bears to sniff out food.

He showed us video on his cell phone of bears in his Asheville, North Carolina, front yard of bears taking peanut butter out of his garbage.

“He is licking it off his paws,” said Bayliss. “They are very opportunistic. If you have food out, their sense of smell will hunt it down.”

That’s also what’s probably going on with bears in Utah right now.

Outside homes, on trails, and even in campsites, Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources says there have been a lot more bear encounters this month.

“We’re seeing more bear activity this year,” said Scott Root, who works with Utah’s DWR. “We’re kind of surprised by it, actually.”

In July 2018, there were 11 reports of bears getting into garbage and coolers.

This July, there have already been 25 reports.

That’s more than double.

One reason might be the big winter we’ve had.

“You’ve got bears that are going into the dens early and they’re coming out late,” said Root. “So, obviously, the longer you’re away from food, you know, you’re going to want to have food.”

While camping, the DWR says it’s a good idea to store your food in a locked trailer or the trunk of your car, not in your tent.

If you backpacked into an area, hanging your food in a tree away from your campsite is a good option.

The idea is to try and keep scented items like food, or even toothpaste and deodorant, in a place where bears can’t get to them.

It’s a good reminder for all of us to be more aware when we’re in bear country and to not make it easy for them to get food.

“Keep your trash kept up and your food stored, and you should be fine,” said Bayliss.

For more information on keeping safe in bear country, you can visit the DWR page here.

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