How One Woman's Improperly Stored Food Led To A $5,000 Fine

If you love the great outdoors, then you know that camping food is a category all its own. Long gone are the days of instant noodles and six granola bars per day. Foodie campers know that with a little planning, campfire cooking can be a fun and delicious way to prepare everything from pancakes to eggs to steaks to burgers. Some of our favorite camping recipes include Dutch oven lasagna, orange-blueberry muffins, make-ahead lentil chili, pizza pull-apart bread, and beef and beer stew.

Cooking in the great outdoors requires a fair bit of foresight, as you source ingredients and equipment and decide how to pack it amongst your gear. And another important detail that requires some planning? How you'll store your food once you arrive at your campsite. Along with regal trees and sweeping vistas, Mother Nature offers an array of critters that would love to feast on your glamping meals, and it's important to keep your food to yourself. Recently, one Idaho woman learned the hard way that keeping campsite food safe from bears is of utmost importance, incurring a surprise visitor — plus a whopping $5,000 fee — as a result.

Attract a bear, pay a fine

Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming is a rugged wilderness zone chock-full of dramatic Rocky Mountain inclines, bountiful wildflowers, and a menagerie of animals, ranging from beavers to grizzly bears. Recently, one visitor from Idaho failed to plan adequately to protect her grub from the latter animal, and got a surprise visit as a result. According to The Takeout, the 50-year-old didn't properly store her trash and drink containers during a recent camping trip. Although her campground had signage about protecting food from bears, as well as a bear box — a locked container in which campers can store food and other items — she didn't take the necessary precautions and a grizzly eventually found her site. 

According to a statement from the Department of Justice (DOJ), video footage of the site showed a grizzly rummaging through Belinda Arvidson's food. After the incident, Arvidson was slapped with a $5,826 fine. Why so much? According to the DOJ, wild bears that discover food at a campsite can become more dangerous to humans, as they learn to stay close to campsites that they might be able to raid. Therefore, park rangers had to tranquilize the grizzly, fit it with a GPS collar, and relocate it to another area of the park. The fine paid by Arvidson covers the cost of this operation. So, as summer swings into full gear and you pack up your tent to hit the trails, remember to exercise caution and store your vittles appropriately.