5 Ways to Be A Nature-Friendly Camper
This post was written by guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy.
The glorious Canadian summer is in full swing, and admission to our national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas is free in 2017 for #Canada150 with the Discovery Pass. If you can’t go to one of those, no worries—there are myriad provincial and private parks to set up camp, take in our great outdoors and create wonderful memories with your loved ones. With nature and your safety in mind, here are some reminders for how to be a conscientious camper.
Bring weather-accommodating clothing. The weather can change at a drop of your sunhat. Take along proper, quality gear that sets you up for varying inclement weather—rain, cold, heat. This means a waterproof rain jacket, a sunhat, shorts and long pants (or pants that convert into shorts), extra socks, and closed-toe, waterproof shoes for handling slippery rocks or sitting near the campfire. As well, think in terms of layers of clothing, so you can switch comfortably between hot and cold temperatures and dry and wet conditions.
Secure your food. When campers leave their food out in the open, bears lose their timidity of humans, resulting in them approaching campsites regularly and becoming a public safety issue. Take care to not leave food and ANY food-related items out, whether it’s empty or full coolers, dirty or clean dishes and bottles, and open or canned pet food. Some campgrounds provide bear-proof storage containers. The other easiest way to keep your stash out of their paws is to stow everything, including prep tools, in your hard-sided vehicle.
Clean yourself responsibly. Make sure your hygiene items such as deodorant and shampoo are unscented, so as not to rouse the interest of curious animals. If you don’t wish to rinse off with only water, use unscented biodegradable soap, available at outdoor stores. You can also use unscented baby wipes—just be sure to bring a large resealable bag to store the used ones for disposal once you return to the campground or come home. Whichever option you choose, be sure to clean and relieve yourself at least 60 metres away from both your designated campsite and any water source.
Do not interact with wildlife. Whether it’s feeding, approaching, or engaging, it’s a no-no. Observe animals from a safe distance. Parks Canada recommends a minimum of 30 metres distance from elk and 100 metres from predators such as black bears, wolves and cougars. This is when binoculars come in handy. When walking around, be astute of immediate sights and sounds, such as droppings, paw prints, or claw and bite marks on trees—you don’t want to surprise an animal, accidentally or not. Even squirrels can give you a serious bite!
Never leave your pets unattended. Keep your pets leashed and in your view at all times. Leashing your animal will help keep them safe, as they can attract bears, cougars, wolves, or coyotes, and dogs have been known to provoke defensive behavior in bears. Keep your dog’s barking to a minimum, as it will disturb wildlife and other campers. You may want to outfit your pet’s harness or leash with a light so they’ll be easier to spot if they run off.