If you've been hiking quite a bit you will probably have experienced an animal trying to get into your food. We are lucky we don't have a problem with bears here in Australia but a cheeky zip opening crow, mice and other rodents, not to mention possums and kangaroos, will all have a good crack a gnawing right through a tent or opening your backpack to get at any crumbs or goodies they can smell.
As nature loving hikers, it’s our responsibility to prevent wild animals from getting the taste for human food. It disrupts their natural diet, makes them dependent on people and even poses a safety threat to us by spreading disease.
Animals generally come foraging at night but you can even get some during broad daylight who can quickly snatch your food. Kangaroos, wombats and birds can launch raids on unattended packs. While at night, nocturnal animals can be heard rustling through packs left outside the tent, or even chewing through a tent to get to the food they can smell. It's not uncommon to wake up in the morning to find a whole wad of food has been demolished by a critter overnight.
WHAT TO DO ?!?!?!?
Some places like the Overland Track in Tasmania and the Bibbulmun Track in WA have huts along the trail and it is recommend that when there is a hut available, you store your food inside the hut. You can take some fishing line with you and hang your food bag from the roof. Some people even suggest using plastic water bottles with a hole in the end and stringing the fishing line through. When a mouse crawls along the line and reaches the bottle it spins and falls off.
If you're in a tent and there aren't any shelters around, you can hang your food bag from a small tree, out of the reach of kangaroos and using the same fishing line method you can stop rodents and possums.
In most cases many people just put their food bag inside the centre of their pack and shove things around it to try and dampen the smell. Then place their whole pack inside the tent.
Cook and eat away from your sleeping area: Set up your cooking and eating area at least 100 yards away from your sleeping area. This helps prevent food odours from lingering near your tent. It's important you don't leave crumbs lying
around and continuously make an effort to keep your cooking equipment clean. Pick up any rubbish and check for food scraps where you have been preparing your meal before you go to bed and when you break camp. This will help to not only keep the critters away but help keep the site pest free for others.
Always practice Leave No Trace principles, which include packing out all rubbish and waste, including food scraps. Do not bury or burn rubbish as it can still attract wildlife.
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