Due to the pandemic and people looking for things to do, more and more folks have turned to camping. When camping up north just remember, you're not alone in the woods.

One industry that has excelled during the pandemic is camping. Campers, tents and other camping supply sales have been booming this year which means there are a lot of new people camping in Michigan forests.

I have traveled a bit this summer around the state and noticed campsites are jam packed. Usually when campsites are jam packed, the overflow winds up in national forests in makeshift set ups.

But no matter where you camp once you get barely north of Grand Rapids, there are bears in our Michigan woods. Heck, in the past couple years, bears have been spotted around Grand Rapids and Holland not to mention the bear that was hit by a truck in Walker a few months back.

One thing bears really like is inexperienced campers. Whether you're in an official campground or the national forests, bears are attracted by smell and if it smells right, your site may get a visit from a black bear.

Here's a few things to remember when camping in bear country:

  • Keep food stored away from your tent. Store it in vehicle if possible.
  • Keep your cooking station away from your tent.
  • Never take any food or snacks in your tent at all. Not even a soda.
  • It's a good idea to change clothes after cooking and eating so your clothes don't smell while your sleeping.
  • It's not just food odors that attract bears - deodorants, soaps, lotions, toothpaste, and even some bug repellents a bear could find interesting. Keep these in a smell proof container.
  • Garbage is just as good to a bear as a freshly made sandwich. Garbage needs to be hauled away immediately or stored somewhere where it cannot be reached.
  • Keep your campfire area free of food scraps in order to keep curious bears away.
  • Bears also understand bright colors mean humans which means they bring food so when using a tent, leave the bright colored tents at home. Camouflage or darker brown and greens bears won't notice and will be less likely to pay you a visit.
  • It never hurts to have a flashlight or bear spray in case you encounter a bear.
  • Know signs that bears leave on trails, near water, broken branches on young trees so you know an area to avoid.
  • If a mother bear and cubs show up, it's best to leave and alert others in the area. Bears with cubs are more unpredictable and dangerous so it's best to find a new place to camp at that point.

So if you plan on doing some camping up north before the end of the season, use these tips above to help have a safer adventure into bear country.

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