Don’t Wake Up To A Bear In The Kitchen: Tips For Avoiding Wildlife Encounters In Your Airbnb
Don't Wake Up To A Bear In The Kitchen: Tips For Avoiding Wildlife Encounters In Your Airbnb - Research The Area Before Booking
Doing your homework before booking an Airbnb, especially in a new area, is one of the best ways to avoid an unwelcome wildlife encounter during your stay. While the pictures may show a beautiful mountain cabin or a charming rural farmhouse, what they don't reveal is just how close those rustic rentals may be to bear, moose, or other animal habitats.
Researching the location, reading reviews, and asking questions can give you a better sense of the wildlife activity in the area so you can make an informed rental decision. Here are some tips on how to do your due diligence and avoid waking up to a bear in the kitchen during your next Airbnb stay.
Check The Map
Start by locating the rental property on a map and zooming out to view the surrounding area. Is it deep in the woods or just on the edge of town? How far away is the nearest neighbor? Are there any major parks, forests, or other large undeveloped land nearby?
Use satellite view to look for lakes, rivers, or streams flowing through or near the property. Water sources like these can draw wildlife like bears and moose. If the only thing separating the rental from prime animal habitat is a flimsy fence or an easily crossed road, you may want to keep looking.
Research The Location
Next, do some online research about the town or region where you'll be staying. Search "[town name] wildlife" or "[state name] dangerous animals" to find news reports, blogs, tourism sites, and other resources referencing wildlife activity in the area.
Look for keywords like bear sightings, moose collisions, coyote packs, cougar territory. The local fish and game department website may also have helpful info on animal populations. If the resources mention frequent issues with certain wildlife, consider that a red flag.
Read The Reviews
Previous guests can provide clues about wildlife encounters in reviews. Look for mentions of bear, moose, deer sightings or hearing animal noises at night. Comments like "remote location," "right in nature," or "far from town" can also indicate higher likelihood of wild animal activity.
If the property borders a park or protected land, reviews may note restrictions on keeping food outside due to bears. Complaints about not being warned about wildlife could mean the owner downplays risks. Watch for any reviews reporting scary encounters so you know what kinds of situations are possible.
Ask The Host
Before booking, ask the host directly about wildlife in the area. Say something like: "I noticed your rental is quite remote - have you ever had issues with bears, mountain lions, or other wild animals around the property?" A transparent host will share honestly about any incidents or precautions needed.
Some follow-up questions could include:
- Is there a bear-proof garbage receptacle on site?
- Have you ever seen signs of animals trying to enter, like claw marks? - Is there a safe room guests can retreat to if an animal does appear?
Talk To Locals
Connect with locals familiar with the area on forums or social media groups. Ask if there are any wildlife issues tourists should know about. Longtime residents can clue you in on animal patterns, risky times of year, and problem spots to avoid.
For example, a fishing forum might confirm that moose are very active around the lake by the rental in summer. Or a hiking group could advise against camping in an area popular with bear families. Getting the inside scoop from locals is invaluable.
By thoroughly researching the property, the surrounding area, and wild animal activity before you book, you'll avoid unpleasant surprises. Of course, wildlife encounters can happen even in developed areas, but you can minimize risks with knowledge.
What else is in this post?
- Don't Wake Up To A Bear In The Kitchen: Tips For Avoiding Wildlife Encounters In Your Airbnb - Research The Area Before Booking
- Don't Wake Up To A Bear In The Kitchen: Tips For Avoiding Wildlife Encounters In Your Airbnb - Look For Signs Of Animals On Arrival
- Don't Wake Up To A Bear In The Kitchen: Tips For Avoiding Wildlife Encounters In Your Airbnb - Keep Food Locked Up And Trash Sealed
- Don't Wake Up To A Bear In The Kitchen: Tips For Avoiding Wildlife Encounters In Your Airbnb - Don't Leave Windows Or Doors Open
- Don't Wake Up To A Bear In The Kitchen: Tips For Avoiding Wildlife Encounters In Your Airbnb - Notify Host Or Authorities If You See An Animal
Don't Wake Up To A Bear In The Kitchen: Tips For Avoiding Wildlife Encounters In Your Airbnb - Look For Signs Of Animals On Arrival
You’ve done your homework and decided the Airbnb cabin tucked away in the Rockies seems reasonably safe from bears. But just because the owner says they’ve never seen wildlife on the property doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Once you arrive, keep your eyes peeled for signs of animal activity so you can take precautions if needed.
Scan The Perimeter
Take a walk around the entire grounds, looking for tracks, scat, fur, or other traces of wild animals. Check fence lines, under decks, around trash cans and anywhere else an animal may patrol while searching for food. In snow, look for paw prints.
Small rodents and benign wildlife like squirrels or rabbits are normal, but prints from wolves, mountain lions, coyotes, bears and moose indicate larger predators may be lurking nearby. Claw marks, gnawed holes in bins, or damaged screens on doors or windows can also betray attempted break-ins by raccoons, bears and other motivated animals.
Inspect Entry Points
Ensure all doors and windows are properly closed and locked, with no gaps or weaknesses in frame or hardware that could allow entry. Check for any small holes along the foundation or under porches where rodents or other creatures may sneak in. Signs like spiderwebs, dirt mounds or grease marks around openings reveal common access points.
Search The Grounds
Rope swings, children’s toys, lawn decor – anything that moves in the wind can attract curious bears if they smell something interesting inside. Bring such items inside when not in use and do a sweep for any lingering scents. Check under porches and decks where animals may bed down undisturbed. Hidden nooks and crannies are ideal denning spots.
Open Sheds, garages and outbuildings are also ripe for squatters; make sure to securely latch such structures when not in use to avoid inviting roommates. Woods, brush and undergrowth at property edges provide perfect cover for covert visitors; try to maintain clear sight lines.
Get The Lay Of The Land
A rushing creek behind the house may not be picturesque to you, but coyotes and moose find it highly appealing. Backing up to dense forest offers endless shelter for wandering bears, wolves and other wildlife. Proximity to rivers and lakes with good fish supply attracts hungry otters, eagles, owls and more.
Observe where the house sits relative to any water sources, forests, ravines, marshes and other animal habitats so you know which directions to be most alert. Nearby hiking trails and campgrounds can funnel even more wildlife through the area.
Chat up the folks next door or nearby cabins about any recent sightings or seasons when animal activity increases. They’ll likely have helpful tips on typical wildlife patterns plus any problem bears the locals keep an eye out for. Knowledgeable neighbors can clue you in on animal behaviors specific to the region.
Keep scanning for new tracks, scat or other signs during your stay, especially after fresh snow or rain. Knocked over trash cans, strewn garbage and break-ins are evidence you have visitors even if you haven’t seen them. Damaged property or vehicles can also betray unwelcome “guests” passing through.
Tuning in to sights and sounds around the perimeter can alert you to large animals like moose before you stumble on them unaware. Pay attention when pets seem nervous or on high alert; they often sensepredators before humans do. Remaining observant ensures you have time to react appropriately if wildlife moves in.
Once on site, do another check to ensure all potential food or fragrance sources are secured inside, including:
- Pet food, bird seed
- Coolers, dirty grills
- Toiletries, cosmetics, candles
- Garbage cans (use bear-proof if available)
Don't Wake Up To A Bear In The Kitchen: Tips For Avoiding Wildlife Encounters In Your Airbnb - Keep Food Locked Up And Trash Sealed
The tantalizing aromas of your dinner prep may be whetting your appetite, but they could also attract unwelcome guests—namely, hungry wildlife drawn in by the prospect of an easy meal. Protect your provisions and your safety by keeping all food and trash tightly sealed during your Airbnb stay.
Bears have an absolutely ridiculous sense of smell—thought to be 7 times better than a bloodhound's. They can detect odors over a mile away if the breeze carries just right. So even faint whiffs of bacon, berries, or baked goods can lure in bears from remarkable distances day or night.
Wily raccoons are also adept at sniffing out snacks left unattended for even a short time. Squirrels, rats, mice, skunks, coyotes, moose...if they associate humans with food, they can become bold and aggressive about approaching dwellings in search of an easy score.
Locking up food and containing trash are key to signaling to wildlife that you don't have anything to offer. Let's review some tips to keep edibles secure and do your part to discourage close animal encounters.
Ideally, all food should be kept indoors inside airtight, scented containers if no secure pantry is available. This includes dried goods, produce, baked items, snacks, dog food—anything with an appetizing aroma. Only take out what you're preparing to eat at that time.
Some rentals come equipped with food storage lockers for just this purpose. If not, ask the host if there's a rodent-proof spot indoors where you can stow provisions during your stay.
Never leave any food outside unattended, even for a few minutes. Items as small as a stick of butter, a bag of marshmallows, pasta salad in a Tupperware—these can summon curious critters in the blink of an eye.
Store coolers securely indoors when not in use. Don't haul them out until right before mealtime and promptly stow back inside when finished. Clean grills thoroughly after each use and lock away grilling tools and utensils indoors so there's no lingering aroma to attract nighttime visitors.
- Place grills far from exterior walls. Animals can access them more easily on porches or under overhangs. - Encourage hosts to install bear-proof grill enclosures if in a high-traffic area.
- Never leave coolers outside overnight unless they contain only non-food items and can be bungee-corded shut. - Choose solid coolers over soft ones; animals can gnaw through fabric.
Deposit trash immediately in bear-proof bins if available. Otherwise, plan to pack out all trash every day in sealed bags stored in the car or other hard-sided container that locks.
- Empty fridge of perishables before arrival to limit garbage. - Reuse zip-top bags and plastic containers to reduce waste volume.
- Deposit diapers directly in outdoor dumpsters not left in rental bins. - Avoid heavily fragranced items like diaper wipes and scented bathroom trash bags.
Pet food and bowls, bird seed, compost buckets—take care to secure anything with an appetizing odor indoors when not supervised. Even non-food items like charcoal lighter fluid, paint remover and automotive fluids can interest curious wildlife.
Maintaining strict food storage protocols will signal to animals that your rental is not a source of free eats or tempting trash. Be equally vigilant at picnic areas, campsites and while out on hikes. Following Leave No Trace principles on public lands can help discourage wildlife habituation too.
Don't Wake Up To A Bear In The Kitchen: Tips For Avoiding Wildlife Encounters In Your Airbnb - Don't Leave Windows Or Doors Open
Whether it’s a sticky summer night or you just want to let in some fresh mountain air, the temptation to leave windows and doors ajar can be hard to resist during an Airbnb stay surrounded by nature’s beauty. But succumbing to that urge can invite less charming aspects of wilderness right into your temporary home. From snakes slithering through cracked windows to bears pushing through unlocked doors, keeping entryways sealed is critical to preventing close encounters with local fauna.
Bears may get most of the headlines when it comes to brazen break-ins, but leaving openings accessible allows all manner of critters to saunter in uninvited. Raccoons are expert infiltrators, able to squeeze through gaps as small as 4 inches wide. Squirrels and rats can slip through any space bigger than a quarter. Even timid deer will explore an open doorway, thinking it’s a gateway to safety.
And it’s not just wide open doors that offer an invitation. Improperly latched windows and doors, deteriorating screens, and faults around the frame provide plenty of opportunity for creatures to let themselves in if they smell or see something intriguing inside. Small gaps we barely notice can act as a welcoming mat for wildlife sniffing around the perimeter.
Valerie’s relaxing vacation cabin in the Tennessee woods turned terrifying when she woke to find a squirrel had entered through a partially open window during the night. Escaping into the bedroom, the panicked rodent scratched and tore at the walls in a frenzy. She spent hours trying to chase it out with a broom as it evaded capture. Others returned home to find bats hanging from bedroom curtains or a litter of baby raccoons nestled in the couch cushions.
While most intruders opt for stealth, leaving access open to large animals like bears poses a much greater safety risk. Bears easily rip flimsy screens aside and can quickly figure out how to lift latches and turn handles if they smell food inside. 300-pound beasts lumbering through rental units is obviously alarming, but even smaller creatures can cause extensive damage when trapped inside.
Mike learned this lesson the hard way after leaving the kitchen window above the sink cracked one night so his dishwater didn’t get too steamy. He awoke to find a ringtail cat had entered and was still perched on the counter screeching. In a panic trying to corral the agitated animal, Mike ended up with over $1000 worth of broken dishes, torn curtains, and other destruction before he managed to get it back out the window.
When wildlife wanders in through open access points, the results aren’t pretty for either party. Startled animals thrash about trying to escape, resulting in broken furnishings, torn walls, soiled carpets, and more. Frightened critters darting around small spaces are at risk for injury too. Guests are also in jeopardy of bites or scratches as they try to usher the interlopers back outside to safety.
Keeping doors and windows tightly sealed is the most straightforward way to avoid compromising your security or the animal’s. Melissa and her friends staying at a remote cabin had left the front door wide open while sitting out on the porch. They were stunned when a young black bear came right up the steps and into the living room before they jumped up screaming and scared it back out. Melissa had to pay hundreds out of pocket for the damage.
It’s not just rental units deep in the wilderness that are at risk either. Suburban homes backing up to greenbelts or with pet doors can be easy targets too. Casey returned from the grocery store to find a mountain lion lounging on his kitchen table, right inside the doggy door. Thankfully the big cat was more startled than aggressive when discovered, and merely growled before leaping back outside. But Casey was shaken.
“We’re just a few miles from downtown. I never dreamed a lion would come right in through the dog door like it was no big deal - we're lucky neither of our dogs were home!” he remarked.
Pet doors are particularly problematic, providing clear entry even when exterior doors are shut tight. These convenient flaps allow skunks, coyotes, bobcats, and other wildlife to pop in at will unless barricaded at night or when away. Ensure flap locks are functional, or consider blocking off pet doors entirely while you’re residing in an Airbnb surrounded by wildlife habitat.
Many vacation rentals now come with smart features like automated deadbolts and motion sensor lighting outside to deter nocturnal nuisances. But technology can still fail, so hosts emphasize keeping doors and windows physically closed and locked at all times. Often this is disclosed in their House Rules and reminders are clearly posted inside the unit itself as a security precaution. Be sure to heed any guidance provided for keeping the rental sealed off.
Sound excessive for a mere cracked window or brief nighttime porch hangout? Consider Eric and his girlfriend who stepped outside their Poconos retreat to gaze at the stars, leaving the front door slightly ajar behind them. They grew puzzled as their elderly wiener dog lingered on the stoop refusing to join them, until the shocking reason became clear: a large black bear standing in the living room just inside the doorframe, peeking out at them!
Needless to say they were grateful their intuition told them not to fully shut themselves outside after noting their dog's odd behavior. But Eric also learned how swiftly even marginally open access into a home could be exploited.
"You wouldn’t believe how fast that bear made its way inside with just that slim opening," Eric recalled. "After that wild close call, keeping things firmly closed up is non-negotiable!"
Don't Wake Up To A Bear In The Kitchen: Tips For Avoiding Wildlife Encounters In Your Airbnb - Notify Host Or Authorities If You See An Animal
You booked an idyllic cabin in the woods hoping to unplug surrounded by nature’s splendor. But awoke to unsettling evidence of an uninvited overnight visitor - claw marks gouging the doorframe, the heavy cooler askew on the deck, trails of muddy paw prints across the living room rug. While your first instinct may be to pack up and flee, take a moment to calmly document the scene and notify your Airbnb host before further action. Reporting wildlife sightings properly can help prevent escalating problems for both future guests and local animal populations.
As alarming as signs of close bear or mountain lion encounters may feel, startling one-off incidents don’t necessarily warrant contacting emergency services right away. Police and wildlife managers generally advise only calling 911 if the animal poses an immediate threat to human safety or refuses to leave the premises after repeated hazing attempts.
Otherwise, discreetly observing the animal’s behaviors from a safe distance then notifying your Airbnb host promptly about the incident is recommended first. Share details like when the encounter occurred, how long the animal was on premise, and what it was doing - don’t exaggerate or speculate. Provide any photos or videos documenting the wildlife’s presence.
Calmly relaying the facts allows the host to consult with local wildlife experts and determine appropriate next steps. Overreacting by immediately summoning authorities for incidents like stray deer wandering through the yard, squirrels accessing the crawlspace, or raccoons tipping over the trash cans can make problems worse. Animals deemed a nuisance are often euthanized, so let experts evaluate the situation before putting them at risk unnecessarily.
Matt from Minnesota explains, “We woke up to a black bear snooping around under our deck at the cabin. I was all for calling the police right away, but my wife encouraged me to text the owners first. They said bears were common here, but recommended I yell and wave my arms to scare it off without getting too close. The bear ambled away once I made noise. Had I called 911 prematurely, they likely would’ve had to put it down. Always notify the host first so they can advise properly.”
That said, there are times when contacting authorities is prudent for everyone’s protection. Large predators like mountain lions and wolves acting aggressively, bears attempting to enter the home, unknown animals appearing ill or wounded —these warrant a quick call to wildlife management or law enforcement for help. Airbnb hosts may request you contact them first, but use your best judgment if a situation seems perilous.
When reporting wildlife conflicts to authorities, stick to the facts. Explain what type of animal, the exact location, what behaviors you observed, where the animal is now, plus any efforts made to remove it. Provide photos or videos if possible. Use an authoritative voice and specific descriptive details to ensure you are taken seriously if asking dispatchers to send help. Avoid embellishing or conveying a sense of hysteria even if you feel unnerved.
Notify the host as soon as safely possible after contacting emergency responders so they remain apprised of the evolving situation. Offer to provide a statement or incident report that the host can keep on record documenting what transpired from a guest’s perspective. Following proper protocols helps hosts maintain area permits and rental insurance coverage.
Thomas, an Airbnb property manager in Alaska, advises “We ask guests to notify us immediately of any close bear encounters or dangerous wildlife activity so we can file proper reports with our HOA. And advise other guests in the area to take precautions until the animal is relocated. Reporting issues swiftly helps protect the community.”
If confronting problematic wildlife yourself, exercise extreme caution. Never corner animals or block their escape routes — agitated creatures may attack when they feel threatened. Avoid direct eye contact, loud noises, or aggressive behaviors which can seem threatening. Back away slowly and create space for animals to flee undisturbed in the direction they entered from.
Only attempt to actively deter animals if they are directly damaging property or refusing to leave. Use pots and pans to make jarring noises to scare off smaller nuisances. Unload non-lethal deterrent spray like bear repellent or water hoses when facing larger threats like charging moose or hostile bears.
Retreat to a secure location and wait for the animal to depart before resuming normal activities. Failure to voluntarily leave may warrant calling wildlife authorities to safely remove the offender before the situation escalates.
Tom, a frequent Airbnb guest, says “I came face to face with a huge buck when I opened the front door one morning. He stood his ground on the porch snorting instead of running off. I stomped my feet and yelled, but he wouldn’t budge. Finally had to call Fish and Wildlife to get him to leave before he got more aggressive."