Bear Safety

A picnic table and bear box in a mulchy campsite, surrounded by trees.
A picnic table and bear box in site 5 at Lunksoos campground.

NPS/Grace Kirk


General Bear Safety

Black bears can be found at Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Some trail conditions make it hard for bears to hear, see, or smell approaching hikers. Be particularly careful near streams, when it's windy, in dense vegetation, or in any circumstance that limits line of sight (e.g. a blind corner or rise in the trail).

  • Never intentionally get close to a bear. Individual bears have their own personal space requirements that vary depending on their mood. Each bear will react differently and a bear's behavior cannot be predicted. All bears are wild and dangerous and should be respected equally.
  • Keep children close by. Hike in groups and avoid hiking early in the morning, late in the day, or after dark. The use of personal audio devices is strongly discouraged.
  • Keep your pack with you at all times. It's ok to bring food while day hiking, but make sure to keep it with you at all times. Never allow a bear to get human food. If approached by a bear while eating, put food away and retreat to a safe distance. Never throw your pack or food at a bear in an attempt to distract it, or abandon food because of an approaching bear. Always take the food with you. Bears that receive human foods often become aggressive and must be killed. Keep yourself and the wildlife safe.
A large brown lock box to prevent bear break-ins.
Bear box at Sand Bank Stream camping area.

NPS/Gin Majka

Camping and Food Storage

Animals can sense your scents! Help us protect wild animals, yourself, and others. Anything that has a smell or has touched food (even if it's clean) attracts wildlife. Help us ensure a clean campsite, to have a clear conscience, and enjoy your time by following the below:
  • All food, garbage, toiletries and any odorous item must be stored in a bear-resistant canisters or inside an NPS metal food storage box at the campsite. Keep your vehicle closed (windows up) if scented items are inside.
  • Store your bear-resistent food containers away from camp. Bear-resistant containers only work if they are closed and locked. Be sure to keep the container closed and locked even while you're around your campsite.
  • Do not store anything containing an odor in your tent.
  • All of these items must be stored properly: canned goods, bottles, drinks, soaps, cosmetics, toiletries, trash, ice chests, sunscreen, bug repellant, fuel, items used for preparing or eating meals, etc.
  • Pack out all uneaten food and food particles. Treat food wrappers and other garbage the same as food. Do NOT dispose of food waste in the wilderness.
  • Leave No Trace
A blue bear-proof food canister sits on a rock with a mountain behind.
Bear canister in the wilderness.


Why is Human Food Bad for Bears?

By eating human food, bears can lose their preference for natural food sources and their fear of humans. Over time, these bears may begin approaching people in search of food. They can become aggressive, unpredictable, and dangerous. Bears looking for human food and garbage can damage property and injure people. These bears pose a risk to public safety and are often euthanized as a result. Studies have also shown that bears that lose their fear of people have a shorter life expectancy than bears that feed on natural foods and are afraid of people. As bears become comfortable around humans, they are more likely to be in areas where humans are. These bears are at risk of being euthanized to protect people, getting hit by a car, and becoming an easy target for poachers.

Last updated: May 14, 2024

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Patten, ME 04765



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