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Old 07-31-2015, 09:36 AM   #1
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Canadian Bears

We are departing for a trans-Canada trip tomorrow and will be staying in national and provincial parks. Yesterday I ran across several posts warning people in soft-sided campers about the danger of having any kind of food in their camper. That really got my attention! It isn't hard to imagine a bear tearing into my penthouse. So I am wondering how one camps in Canada with a SMB? If I take the warnings seriously, we won't be able to carry any food and we might even be wise to not use the penthouse at night. So, I need advice. I have read several trip reports on Canada and Alaska and no one mentioned bear-proofing measures. I don't want to be a worry-wart, but I don't want to be stupid, either.
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Old 07-31-2015, 09:59 AM   #2
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Re: Canadian Bears

Bear is more likely to sniff around the doors.
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Old 07-31-2015, 10:04 AM   #3
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Re: Canadian Bears

Personally we camp often in grizzly country and now sleep like a baby with our Sportsmobile. When I was tenting.....I didn't sleep quite as well. Keep a clean campsite. Don't spill any food around your rig when cooking. If you do clean it up. Keep your trash inside your rig instead of in a trasheroo on the back at night.

Most bear incidents are from sloppy campsites.

I'm not saying a bear couldn't do some damage if he really wanted to try to get into a van but I wouldn't worry about it.

You might want to carry bear spary just in case. I take it with me when I'm in grizzly country. Just make sure you don't leave it in a hot vehicle. My buddies have some horror stories of forgetting canisters in a hot car. It took them months to clean it up.
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Old 07-31-2015, 10:26 AM   #4
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Re: Canadian Bears

The two times we drove to Alaska (tent camping) we generally followed the procedure of stopping to cook dinner at a wayside or picnic area, then driving a bit (or a lot) longer and camping. We had sleep-only clothes that we'd wear to bed, with all the other clothes, etc., staying in our truck overnight.

I have also wondered about the SMB pop-top in grizzly country. Grizzlies don't really climb much, so I assume it would be safe. But, in Yellowstone's Fishing Bridge RV-only campground, they won't allow pop-top vans to stay unless the top stays down (or so they told me last month) due to bear activity in the area.
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Old 07-31-2015, 12:06 PM   #5
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Re: Canadian Bears

Generally the bears are equally afraid of you. Many, many rips into bear country and I've only seen a couple of problems - and both of those were in Yosemite.

In Yosemite the bears are used to being around people and using the people's campsites as a food source. The Yosemite bears were so used to finding camper food that they could recognize a cooler or a box of donuts in a car and would break into the car for the food. The rangers there have really cracked down on proper food storage and the problem is greatly reduced. Even there the bears knew that people could be inside campers and left them alone.

Unless you do something to get the bears attention (carry food near a hungry bear, get between a mother and her cubs, run (if you run fast or bike the bear's instincts may cause him to chase you down to find out why you are running)) you will be reasonably safe.

I worry more about human predators than I do about bears when I camp in bear country.

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Old 07-31-2015, 12:40 PM   #6
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Re: Canadian Bears

Campgrounds that we have stayed that have PREVIOUSLY had bear problems solved by enforcing the KEEP IT CLEAN policy. Personally we use the same protocol as when we tent camped. All cooking is done outside the van. Everything is CLEANED up after a meal and trash put in the proper place and we make sure that proper place is not near our RV.

I think the easiest way to keep bears away is to make sure your site is far cleaner then the campers around you.
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Old 07-31-2015, 12:54 PM   #7
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Re: Canadian Bears

All the replies are helpful, but I'd like to hear specifically about storing food in the camper. When I had the tent the food stayed in the car trunk. So, what do you do with a SMB? Of course the trash goes in a campground trash bin, but what about my food that is in the frig? Some places evidently have bear boxes but that won't solve the frig issue?
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Old 07-31-2015, 02:07 PM   #8
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Re: Canadian Bears

It's said that a bear's sense of smell is 7 times that of a Bloodhound. My point being that no matter where you store the food scents linger. Even if you pull all the food out of your van you can't eliminate all traces. The bear already knows your there....probably from miles away. The key is to not leave anything easy out to entice them. Just lock your doors at night, leave nothing outside, and maintain a clean camp. Worst case if you get a really curious bear that is pawing around your vehicle then honk the horn at him or drive off if he is really persistent.
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Old 07-31-2015, 02:29 PM   #9
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Canadian Bears

We keep all food and trash IN the van when there's a risk, but we cook outdoors. If there are trash cans we use them, but there are few in the off grid places we generally traverse. A pop top van (tent up high) is the best kind of camper for bear country. I wouldn't overthink this. It's your camper and your home on wheels. Use it as such. Carry bear spray and don't leave food out in the open or on the ground. When we grill I usually carry it a little ways from the van, out in the woods, overnight. I've never had a problem.
Also, we use plastic grocery bags for trash. They fill up fast, usually a couple times a day or after every cooked meal, mostly because we prefer disposable plates/silverware. We get rid of them anywhere we stop, anywhere we can, but if we're stuck with trash overnight it stays in the van.
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Old 07-31-2015, 04:29 PM   #10
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Re: Canadian Bears

Unless a bear is absolutely starving, I doubt it would try to rip open your penthouse top to get food. There are much easier ways to get at food, and much less careful campers, for a bear to spend the trouble to get into your rig. Just keep the top down when you are not in your rig or not around it.
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