More bears are stealing food from campers as drought impacts berry supply in northern Minnesota

As drought conditions linger in Minnesota, Superior National Forest is warning campers to secure their food as reports of bears seeking out food from humans are on the rise.

According to wildlife officials, the drought has led to a poor berry crop, a major food source for black bears. As a result, the forest has seen increased incidents of bears approaching campsites, digging in dumpsters, and stealing backpacks.

"This is bear-country, people are going to see black bears. They live here. That’s not concerning to me, but bears at dumpsters, lingering at campsites and stealing packs is. Once they get a reward, or food, they will keep doing whatever it takes to get that reward again," Superior National Forest Wildlife Biologist Cheron Ferland wrote in a statement.

As a result, Superior National Forest is making changes, forcing visitors to properly store their food to protect themselves and the bears. Unless eating or in the process of transporting the food, visitors are required to:

  • Use a bear canister or bear-resistant container and place it 50 feet away from your tent on the ground (preferred method) or;
  • Hang your food pack at least 12 feet above the ground at all points, six feet horizontally from any pole or limb and four feet vertically from any pole or limb. Please be mindful of the weight of your pack while hanging it to avoid breaking branches and damaging live trees.

Along with food, the forest officials say visitors can also take the following steps to limit bear encounters:

  • Making sure anything with a scent is properly stored. This includes, but is not limited to, toothpaste, wrappers, lip balm, soap, petroleum products and lotion.
  • Disposing of fish remains at least 200 feet from any campsite, portage, trail and shoreline.
  • Packing out cooking grease; bears are attracted to the grease you leave behind in the firepit. For locations mentioned above, consider bringing foods that do not create grease..
  • Packing out all food scraps, including fruit and vegetable remains.
  • Packing only the food you need for your trip. The less potent the better.
  • If dumpsters are full, take your garbage out with you; please don’t leave it outside of a secure container.
  • Using bear spray.

For more information on securing your food, you can click here.