What To Do When Encountering A Bear

Written by on May 22, 2013 in Lifestyle - No comments | Print this page


bear-profileOne of the biggest concerns people have while spending time in the wilderness is encounters with animals, mainly dealing with bears.

This article will provide some useful tips that will help keep a safety net not only for those that are enjoying the outdoors but for the magnificent creatures that live there as well.

The number one thing to help prevent these unwanted run-ins is by paying attention to your surroundings and making noise while you hike. If you notice bear scat and fresh diggings, then leave the area.

The majority amount of bear run-ins are with black bears. It is important to understand that if they hear you they will usually try to avoid you. Noise, even conversations with your hiking buddies is very important to avoiding them.

Secondly, try to make sure that you are permeating unnecessary odors. Bears have an extremely sensitive sense of smell. Please avoid using cologne and scented body lotions or perfume when you are traveling through areas that are populated with bears.

Food, even in the smallest amount can send bears into a feeding frenzy. When you are cooking, clean the pots then store the food and cooking stoves in a bear bag which you can hang in a tree. Crumbs attract animals in to investigating, do not eat in your camping tents.

If you are one that carries bear spray with you, do not spray it around the campsite in an attempt to keep bears away. The Problem with just spraying bear spray is that bears are attracted to the smell unless sprayed directly at them.

Bear spray is very effective in preventing an attack and it is highly recommend that you always carry one that is approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

If you do decide to carry the spray it is wise to have it in a hip holster making it easy to access if needed. If for some reason you come across an aggressive bear, you will want to spray a short burst at the bear when it is within 30 feet of you. If the bear continues to move forward spray another short burst into the bear’s face.

Finally, make sure you are always prepared of an encounter. You must at all costs avoid panic and stay calm; much easier said than done. There are two types of bear you are most likely to encounter.

Grizzly bears are the second most common bear in North America. You must treat this bear with respect and distance. They may be cute and cuddly from far away but if they too close that will change.  Grizzly bears tend to attack when they feel threatened.

If faced with an aggressive grizzly you must avoid eye contact, drop any items you may be holding (keep your backpack on) and back up slowly with your palms out. Do this while speaking in a calm quiet voice and this will show the bear that there is no aggression on your side.

In a worst case scenario, play dead by covering your head on your belly. In this position you are protecting your vital areas and you also allow the backpack to provide you some much needed protection.

When dealing with black bears it is a much different procedure. If you come across a black bear, you must stand strong and tall, yelling at the bear while making loud noises which will hopefully scare the bear off.

With so many campers leaving trash around the camp grounds black bear have grown accustomed to eating trash, so playing dead will not work.

Tyler Tebbs loves to go hike, bike, fish, play sports, read, and write. He is also the owner of Excursion Outfitters, a store that is dedicated to hikers and campers. 


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