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Hikers and campers - avoid conflicts with black bears

Black bears are expanding their range in Massachusetts. By taking precautions and remaining alert, you can prevent conflicts with bears while enjoying the outdoors.

Tips to prevent conflicts with black bears:

  • Don't cook, eat, or store food in or next to your tent or camp trailer where odors may linger. Sleep as far away from food storage and preparation areas as possible.
  • Do not dispose of food scraps, grease, or other edibles in your campfire. These materials may not completely burn. Also, the scent of burned food may attract bears.
  • Store food in bear-proof containers or hang it high on sturdy poles or on wires strung between two trees. Food should hang at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet off the base of the truck. Don't feed bears or leave food items or coolers out when away from the campsite.
  • Use caution if storing food in your vehicle. Some bears may be able to break a window to gain entry. Even if unsuccessful, the bear's attempts may damage your vehicle.
  • Store toiletries safely with your food.  The scent and use of perfumes and colognes may attract bears.
  • Stay at campgrounds that are clean, use “bear boxes” for safe food storage and dispose of garbage in bear-proof dumpsters.
  • While hiking, normal trail noise will alert bears to your presence and often prompt them to move without being noticed. 
  • If you see a bear, it may not immediately recognize you as a human and may be curious until it scents you. Make the animal aware of your presence by clapping, talking, or making other sounds while slowly backing away. Do not approach bears or intrude between a female bear and her cubs. Keep dogs leashed and stay a respectful distance away.
  • Spread the word about how to avoid conflicts with bears by sharing these tips with others.

Additional Resources for Tips to prevent conflicts with black bears:

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