When you’re out on the trails, it’s important to remember that you’re entering the territory of wild animals, and it’s your responsibility to minimise your impact on their habitat. One key aspect of responsible hiking is keeping wildlife out of your hiking pack. Here are some tips to help you do just that.
- Store food and trash properly: Wildlife are attracted to the smell of food and can be tempted to investigate your backpack if they catch a whiff of something tasty. Make sure to store all food, snacks, and trash securely in animal-proof containers or canisters. Be sure to clean up any food waste and crumbs after eating, and pack them out in sealed plastic bags or other secure containers. Avoid leaving any food or trash unattended, even for a short time. Store food and trash in your tent or inside your backpack. Leaving food or trash outside your tent will attract wildlife during the night.
- Pack smelly items securely: Birds can also be attracted to strong smelling items other than food. Toiletries, snacks, and other items with a strong scent should be stored securely in sealed containers or placed in odor-proof bags to prevent wildlife from being lured by the smell.
- Keep your backpack clean: Make sure to keep your backpack clean and free of any food crumbs or spills. Regularly shake out your bag and wipe down the interior to remove any lingering food residue. Keeping your backpack clean will help minimise any enticing smells that may attract wildlife.
- Inspect your backpack: Before setting up camp or leaving your backpack unattended, inspect it thoroughly to make sure there are no holes or openings that rodents can access. Repair any damage or openings promptly to prevent rodents from gaining entry.
- Use a pack cover: A waterproof pack cover can be an effective deterrent. Make sure it fits your backpack snugly and covers all the pockets and openings where birds might be able to gain access.
- Use visual deterrents: You can also use visual deterrents to scare off birds. Items such as shiny reflective tape or a pack cover may discourage birds from getting too close to your backpack.
- Be vigilant: Keep an eye on your backpack and be vigilant about keeping it closed and secured at all times. Double-check zippers, buckles, and openings to make sure they are properly closed and secured. Some birds are known to open zips so so a small twist tie can help prevent them getting in.
- Be mindful of wildlife habitats: When you’re hiking, be aware of your surroundings and respect wildlife habitats. Avoid disturbing or approaching animals, especially if they have young ones. Do not feed wildlife, as it can habituate them to human food and cause them to become dependent on it, leading to negative consequences for both the animals and humans. Keep a safe distance and observe wildlife from a distance.
- Educate yourself: Educate yourself about the local wildlife and their behavior before you hit the trails. Knowing what animals are common in the area and how they may interact with humans will help you take appropriate precautions. Birds can be quite resourceful when it comes to getting into backpacks in search of food.
- Leave No Trace: Following the principles of Leave No Trace is essential for responsible hiking. This includes packing out all of your trash, leftover food, and litter. Dispose of waste properly in designated receptacles or pack it out with you. Minimise your impact on the environment by staying on designated trails, avoiding trampling on vegetation, and not disturbing wildlife.
Responsible hiking includes taking steps to keep wildlife out of your hiking pack. Storing food and trash properly, avoiding strong-smelling items, keeping your backpack clean, respecting wildlife habitats, following park regulations, educating yourself about local wildlife, and practicing Leave No Trace principles are all important steps to minimise your impact on wildlife and their habitat while enjoying the beauty of nature. By being mindful of wildlife and taking appropriate precautions, you can help protect these animals and their homes for generations to come.
Do you have any other great ideas for keeping wildlife out of your hiking pack?