- Once strictly wilderness areas are becoming more populated by humans.
- That means people are encountering wild animals more than ever before.
- The worst encounters are with wild bears. What can you do?
Hunters out in bear country are usually well armed and, if they encounter a brown, black or grizzly bear (Polar Bears are a whole other animal) there’s a good chance they’ll get away alive. But, hikers and campers are not as likely to have a weapon and even less aware of the signs that bears are around. So, what do you do if you’re unlucky enough to come across a bear that’s not more afraid of you than you are of it? Here are a few tips that might help.
Always carry pepper spray or Mace in bear country. Just like humans, bears are momentarily blinded and in pain if sprayed in the face. Hopefully, long enough for you to run the other way.
Make your presence known by rustling bushes and loudly calling out phrases like, “Hey Bear!” Make lots of noise, even if it annoys your partner.
Be on the lookout for active bear signs, especially fresh scat. You know that old question, “Does a bear sh*t in the woods?” Luckily, the answer is yes.
Keep an eye out for fresh bear tracks. Duh… Black bears have shorter and more curved claws than a grizzly, but you don’t want to surprise either one. Animal tracks are more visible when left in moist soil. Moisture is also a good indicator of how fresh animal tracks may be.
Avoid obvious bear feeding and drinking areas like berry patches, bee hives and streams. Bring your own water. And non-bear snacks.
Bears get a bit drowsy and usually take a break from their constant eating by mid-day, since they generally forage at night. So, when the sun is fairly high, that’s the best time for a good hike.
Double-bag and hang any extra food at least 15 feet above the ground. Preferably in airtight containers. And definitely not in pic-a-nic baskets…
Make up your tent as far away from your food as you can. Don’t be mistaken as an appetizer.
Set your tent in an area where you will have the best visibility all around. And try to keep a good fire going all night. That’ll keep most animals at bay, including bears.
Most bear attacks are defensive and they’re generally not interested in eating you. They are carnivores but usually eat vegetation and bugs. And, honey, of course. But, if the worst happens and a bear does get hold of you, the oldest trick in the book still works:
Roll up in a ball and play dead…