Bear canisters not yet required in North Cascades
Photo by Alan Bauer. Hard sided containers are strongly recommended by North Cascades National Park so these critters don't become conditioned to the food we bring into the mountains - that we're not up there just to bring them meals!
Our May + June magazine reported that beginning this hiking season, North Cascades National Park (NCNP) was to begin the requirement of bear canister use for storing food during backcountry overnight trips to certain destinations within the Park.
Per Sage Boerke of the Marblemount Ranger Station at NCNP, this requirement has been put on hold for 2012, pending more studies and tests that might expand food storage choices, such as the aluminum-lined Ursack.
When backpackers pick up their permits, the permitting officer will advise if the desired destination is a high bear activity area, and will offer a bear canister to borrow (free of charge, but you need to supply credit card information - which will not be used if the canister is returned). For those not confident in their food-hanging technique, bear canisters can be borrowed for free from NCNP, whose website includes a page with tips and advice about food storage requirements in the backcountry (yes, proper food storage is a law!).
Good food storage habits lessen or eliminate the chances of a bear becoming conditioned to human food.