It's almost like a rite of passage for anyone who goes camping in northern Michigan...you drive to the nearby dump and wait for the bears to come out. Sometimes all you get are raccoons...but the bears are there. There are chipmunks, squirrels, rats, and various birds that abound in the dump – but who cares? We wanna see the bears.

And depending where you are camping, you are 95% guaranteed to see a bear or two come lumbering along, scavenging thru the trash for any kind of tasty morsel. Of course, the bears don't just limit their smorgasbord to garbage dumps...they scour neighborhood yards for their food fix...some even will enter your house or cabin if you leave the door open, screened, or unlocked. They can open your fridge, tip over the heaviest trash barrels, and leap up onto your kitchen countertop.

So how do you prevent bears from rooting around in your discarded rubbish?

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The nose of a bear is extremely sensitive...one hundred times more than yours. Ammonia works very well as a bear deterrent. An ammonia or bleach-filled (don't ever mix the two) plastic jug or barrel with holes punched in the lid seem to work well; the scent keeps the bears away. However, be cautious with ammonia; it can blind a bear. So don't rig up something that will spray ammonia in its face...the scent is all you'll need to repel ol' Yogi & Boo Boo.

When I was a kid, I was traveling with my parents when we came across a big ol' brown bear walking along the road. Like most people, we stopped and pulled off the road. I rolled my window down to throw some food out and the bear jumped right up and stuck his head inside the car. I eventually got the window rolled up and the bear again jumped up against the car, his big old razor-sharp claws gouging the paint. That was the only encounter I ever had with a bear.

Now take a look at the gallery below and see some photos of bears rootin' around in the garbage in a few upper Michigan dumps!

Bears in the Trash Dump

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