You may have heard about the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s policy on food storage, which now advocates for the use of bear-resistant storage containers along the Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine. What does the policy mean?
The Long Trail, which runs concurrent with the A.T. for ~100 miles in Southern VT, traverses black bear habitat. With increased trail activity, there has been a notable increase in bear-human interactions as bears become less wary of humans and associate their presence with food. Bears are attracted to human and pet foods, scented personal items such as toothpaste, and trash; easy access to these things makes bears more dependent on human foods and less wary. Any wild animal can become habituated, but bears are particularly susceptible due to their intelligence, opportunism, and adaptability. We want to minimize bear interactions for the safety of both bears and trail users; we do this by choosing to store items properly every time you visit the Long Trail.
The Long Trail in Vermont crosses over state, federal, and private land. With these varied land managers come different rules and regulations, but above all, proper food storage is an absolute must when hiking or camping anywhere in Vermont and beyond. Below, we try to simplify the options for you.
Here are the Takeaways
- Bear canisters are the most foolproof method of storage and are strongly recommended by the club. You can borrow one for free from GMC Headquarters in Waterbury, the Manchester Ranger Station, and Gifford Woods State Park.
- An approved food storage method is required in the Green Mountain National Forest (most of the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail from the Mass. border to Appalachian Gap). Proper bear hangs are approved, but they are difficult to get right.
- The ATC’s new policy strongly recommends an approved food storage container (pg 4) and discourages bear hangs because they are often done improperly, and there is evidence that bears can infiltrate even a properly hung food bag.
Help us spread the word on proper food storage — and the risks associated with improper storage — and call folks in who may need a refresher on best practices: Black Bear Safety in Vermont
Find the ATC’s policy here: ATC Food Storage Policy, 2022
Find the Green Mountain National Forest’s 2019 Order here: Forest Service to Implement Food and Refuse Storage Requirements