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Why Use a Bear Resistant Canister?

Bear resistant canisterOn July 2, 2004 a NYSDEC Assistant Forest Ranger (AFR) met two campers as they were heading out after spending three nights on Lows Lake in the Five Ponds Wilderness Area of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. The campers displayed a beat up bear resistant canister to the AFR that had been almost brand new when they began their camping trip. They then related the following:

On June 27, the campers had set up for a three night stay at Campsite 23 on the north side of Lows Lake. In the evening, aware that a number of campers had lost food and had equipment damaged by bears foraging around campsites in the area (having been informed by the AFR on their way in), they placed their food inside the bear resistant canister and set it outside their campsite in a low spot.

Shortly after dark, a large bear swam up and began sniffing around their site. It quickly located the bear resistant canister and began to try to get into it. The campers had most of an hour's entertainment as the bear first clawed at the canister, then batted it around, and finally attempted to chew off the lid. Eventually the bear became discouraged and wandered off leaving a badly battered but intact bear resistant canister full of food.

The next night, June 28th, the bear returned and spent a short amount of time attempting to get at the food within the bear resistant canister. It was again unsuccessful. The bear did not return on the third night.

Illustration of bear eating contents of cooler.

The AFR had received other reports about the same bear, which was known to have had a regular route it swam between campsites on Lows Lake. It had visited a number of other sites on the nights of June 27th, 28th, and 29th. Campers who had hung their food, or attempted to save it by other means, all reported to have lost food and damaged equipment.

The bear resistant canister had proven to be a safe and effective means for deterring bears not only from taking campers food, but also from entering a camp site to forage for food. Even a bear which had become accustomed to obtaining food from campers.

NYSDEC REGULATION REQUIRES THE USE OF BEAR-RESISTANT CANISTERS BY OVERNIGHT USERS IN THE EASTERN HIGH PEAKS WILDERNESS BETWEEN APRIL 1 AND NOVEMBER 30. NYSDEC encourages campers to use bear resistant canisters throughout the Adirondack and Catskill backcountry.