Bears are regular visitors around the lake, including at our campsites at Chamberlain Reynolds Memorial Forest. Intern Maggie Kelley provides some basic information on what to do if you're lucky enough to encounter a bear in the woods and how to camp safely in bear country.
Coexisting with Bears
What do I do if I encounter a bear?
Black bears, the only bear species found in New Hampshire, will often be gone before humans ever see them. To prevent potential encounters, talk while hiking or wear a bear bell, and be smart about storing food while camping. Bears are more scared of you than you are of them, and if a bear hears you coming, they will most likely leave and stay away.
If you do see a bear, you should keep your distance, wave your hands above your head, lift your jacket up to make yourself bigger, and make noise. Talk loudly, bang pots and pans together, or make other sounds. You should not turn your back, run, play dead, or advance towards the bear.
How do I camp safely with bears in the area?
When setting up camp, be loud to avoid surprising a bear. Regarding food, the most important thing to keep in mind is to keep a clean camp. Don’t leave food out, or eat or store food in a tent. To store food, you have several options. In campgrounds where bears are common, stationary metal boxes that are bear proof are sometimes provided. Another choice is bear canisters, which are plastic hard containers that are light and easy to use – usually a good option for backpackers. Lastly, a bear hang is a smart choice, especially if you need to store a large amount of items. A bear hang uses rope between two trees or off one sturdy branch to hoist food, or items that smell like food (pots and pans, toiletries like toothpaste, soap, deodorant, cooking clothes, or anything else that has an odor) off the ground and out of a reach of a bear. The bag should be at least 12 feet high and 6-10 feet from any vertical supports. If the bag is hung off of a branch (versus off a rope strung between two trees), it should be at least 6 feet down.