Can Bears Smell Vacuum Packed Food?

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Some fish vacuum sealed - Can Bears Smell Vacuum Packed Food?

The winter season is, by far, the busiest time of year for bears in North America. When they aren’t falling down from exhaustion after navigating through the maze of logging roads and highways that connect their habitat, they’re going into overdrive to survive.

Unfortunately, this usually means that bears are hungry. The good news is some measures can be taken to mitigate your interaction with bears. In this article, we will take a look at the considerations and precautions one must take to lessen the chances of a run-in with a bear.


How Far Away Can Bears Smell Food?

Bears have a keen sense of smell, and they use this sense to find food and avoid predators. They can smell things from a long way away. To be more precise, sometimes as far as 20 miles away and upwind.

Now, when we’re talking about 20 miles, that’s a relatively potent smell that can linger. Another way to look at a bear’s sense of smell is to compare it to us humans and even our best friends.

The average fido’s sense of smell is ten times stronger than a human’s; a bloodhound’s sense of smell is 100 times stronger than ours, and coming in the first place is a bear’s sense of smell which is 2,100 times stronger than humans.


How Do You Keep Bears From Smelling Food?

There are many different steps the outdoor enthusiast can take to keep bears from smelling food. The first and most important thing is to put your food away!

Don’t leave your food just out around your campsite. Below is a list of additional steps you can take to avoid tempting these beautiful creatures:


  • Cover the food with a cloth or plastic bag.
  • Place the food in a container with a lid.
  • Place the container in a bear-proof cage.
  • Place the container in an area where bears cannot get to it.
  • Place the container in a bear-proofed area such as a garage or basement.
  • Seal the container with a lid that is not easily opened.


The main takeaways are to cover, contain, and move it away.


What Makes a Container Bear Proof?

Several things make a container bear-proof. The first is that the container must be leak proof. This means that the container must be able to withstand the leakage of any liquid, whether it be water, food, or medicine.

The second thing that makes a container bear-proof is that it must be airtight. This means that the container must be able to prevent air from entering. Finally, the last thing that makes a container bear-proof is that the container must be sturdy enough to withstand any impact.

In other words, the contents should not be affected if the container is damaged. If you are looking for a container to store your food, water, or medicine, then you should consider purchasing a bear-proof container.

Bear-proof containers are one of the most important things when it comes to your food’s longevity and your own safety.


What Smells do Bears Hate?

Despite what some might think, bear spray should NOT be sprayed on things you want bears to avoid, the pepper residue mellows out, and the odors actually start to smell yummy to bears.

Don’t let this discourage you from using bear spray in the wild should you happen upon a bear. It’s still efficient in a face-to-face run-in with a bear. Surprisingly enough, since bears are usually found in the woods, one smell they don’t like is pine.

They are not fond of intense cleaning solution smells. Such as Lysol, cider vinegar, or even ammonia. To add a bear deterrent to your campsite, use any of these smells or even all of them within your campground.


Is There Any Food Smell That Bears Won’t Recognize?

Seems to be that there isn’t a food smell that won’t have the bears knocking on your door. They will go after rotting meat, scale dumpsters to get to the refuse inside, and many other man procured foods.

Bears will feed 90% of plant-based food even in their natural habitats. Think blueberries, or they’ll even dig for edible roots. A large portion of their food may be vegetarian, but they are also known to partake in carnivorous activities as well.

Fish and carrion (winter casualties) are staples of their diets as well. Even pungently deceased animals will draw in a bear. There doesn’t seem to be too much food a bear wouldn’t mind partaking in.

Final Thoughts on Can Bears Smell Vacuum Packed Food

All in all, bears are magnificent creatures that need to be admired from a distance.

If they aren’t actively hibernating, they are just emerging from hibernation and are understandably ravenous, or they are preparing their bodies for the long calorie deficit they will be facing when they do begin hibernation.

So do your best to ensure that anything that seems tasty to them is far away from you. Be safe out there, and be sure to admire the wildlife from a distance.