How to Keep Animals Out of Your Camp [VIDEOS]   Recently updated !

Bears and raccoons at camping table
  Bears in campsite

Keep animals out of your campsite
Bears, Raccoons, Skunks

Keeping animals out of your campsite is easy if you follow these camping tips. Bears get all the attention, with people recommending gear like indestructible bear-safe food containers, but for the majority of campers the most common camp invaders are raccoons and skunks. Unless you are in bear country that is…

*Note – all shopping links are my own Amazon affiliate links – which I only use to recommend good-quality camping gear – Gus

#1 Reason for animal camp invasions – FOOD!

Of course there will be rare exceptions, but generally forest animals try to stay away from human contact. Unless there is something to lure them into your campsite, you usually never see them.

Unfortunately, too many campers give them that something that lures them into the campsite – in the form of easily available food!

Bears wrecking a tent
This is not what most campers have to worry about.

Raccoon in camp
This is!


Was that a candy bar in your tent?

Tip: Many forest animals, (raccoons and bears in particular), can smell strong food odors, like raw meat and meal scraps, from as far as a mile away!

Properly store, and dispose of camp food after every meal

Just closing the cooler or sealing the bread bag is not enough. Animals can even smell food in unopened bags and containers, and unless your cooler has a sealed lid with tension-lock claps, they can smell the food in a closed cooler too.

And trash bags with food scraps are like “Free Buffet” invitations to raccoons and skunks.

You don’t want to find this in your camp trash bag!

Most common camp animal food magnets:

  1. Camp trash bag with food scrapes
  2. Food scraps and crumbs on table and ground
  3. Unsealed food containers – like bread and chip bags
  4. Food in tents – even unopened
  5. Spilled sugary beverages and empty containers of same
  6. Uncleaned food preparation surfaces

Of course the remedies for these seem like common sense, but it is surprising how many campsites have almost all of these animal magnets in place when everyone turns in for the night. The most common animal camp invaders in North America are: 1) Raccoons, 2) Opossums, 3)SKUNKS! Raccoons may look cute, but they can be extremely destructive to any camp gear between them and the food. Opossums are just yucky, but can usually be shooed away.

SKUNKS! These fellas aren’t shy, don’t like to be shooed, and can ruin a camping trip with one short burst! One encounter with one of these camp invaders will instantly turn you into the Food Police on every subsequent camping trip.

How to keep animals out of your campsite:

  • Don’t put food scraps in the camp trash bag. Burn them in your campfire instead, but if you must:
    • Take the camp trash to the campground receptacles every night, don’t leave them in camp
    • If no trash receptacles are available – hang the trash bag(s) from a tree limb, as high as you can manage, and as far away as feasible.
  • Keep the camp food eating and cooking areas tidy. Clean food prep surfaces thoroughly after every meal. Wipe down camp table surfaces after meals. Don’t leave large pieces of food scrapes on the ground.


  • Seal all food containers, and for non-cooler items, store them in something stronger than a bag. If you don’t have a camping chuckbox, plastic totes work well for food items in boxes and bags
    • Most discount stores have a good selection. Just make sure you get one with a lid that snaps or locks closed.
  • Rinse all sugary drink spills with LOTS of water
  • Don’t allow any food in tents. This includes unopened food like candy bars, chips, and trail mix too. As mentioned, animals can smell even unopened food. You just may find your campsite looking like the bear image above.

Tip: Car campers can lock their food up in their vehicles each night. EXCEPT in bear country!

Some “camper suggested” ways to keep the critters away:
*These aren’t proven recommendations – just some methods that other campers say worked for them.

  • Mark your territory – urinate around the perimeter of your campsite.
  • Mothballs – scatter a sprinkling of mothballs around the perimeter of your campsite.
  • Fabric Dryer sheets placed around the campsite

How to get rid of animals in camp:

  • Bears – Forget about it, and get to safety. It’s their campsite until they decide to leave.
  • Raccoons and Opossums – You can scare them away with clapping and loud noises – but don’t try to put your hands on them.
  • Skunks – Keep your distance. Don’t try to get close, they will think you are a danger and spray you. But you can try shooing them away with loud noises and yelling – but from a safe distance.

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