HOW TO BE BEAR SAFE WHEN HIKING

     

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WHAT DO I SEE IF I SEE A BEAR?  IS IT A DANGER?

Here are some points to remember on the topic of bear safety.  Before I start please remember that being afraid of a bear should never stop you from going out in nature, just like being scared of a bee should not keep you from going in your yard. I have been hiking and camping in the backwoods for 15 years in bear territory. I have come across many bears and never had a problem, in most cases, they are easy to scare off…  9/10 bears don’t want anything to do with you.  In most cases, some noise will scare them off (especially a black bear).  But here are some things to remember:

  • If you’re in an active bear area make noises by talking, singing, or randomly yelling “HEY BEAR” to announce your presence. The sound of bells does not carry as well as the human voice. Almost all bears will do everything they can to avoid you, so just make noise when you hike!
  • Hike in a small group rather than alone, as bear attacks on groups are virtually unknown.  Like I said bears avoid humans, especially in groups.
  • Keep your pets on a leash if possible. Roaming dogs can agitate bears which then they might chase the dog. Most bears fear dogs, but if you catch the wrong one on a bad day he may attack your dog.
  • Watch for bear signs along the trail including scat, tracks, and scratches on trees.

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WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I CANT SCARE OFF A BEAR WITH NOISE?? (VERY RARE)

  • Don’t run or try to climb a tree. Instead back away slowly while speaking to the bear softly and avoiding eye contact.
  • Don’t try to get closer to take photos. Give the bear space and a way for it to escape (don’t corner it).
  • If a bear acts aggressively and doesn’t leave the area or you can’t safely make a wide detour around it, save the hike for another day!
  • Brown bears and Mother bears with cubs should be avoided at all cost.  If you see them and can avoid them, don’t try and scare them off just avoid them.

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SO, WHAT IF A BEAR CHARGES AT ME?  SHOULD I USE BEAR SPRAY??

This is where I tent to disagree with a lot of “experts” I have many backwoods friends and we all agree that bear spray is not to be used! I know that sounds weird but hear me out, bears if cornered or aggressive may “charge” at you.  They run at you then stop to see if u will run or attack back.  This has happened to me before, I just remained calm.  A “charge” does not mean they are going to attack, they are just warning you to stay away. 

In a moment like this spraying it in the face with BURNING HOT spray will just enrage the bear and cause it to be even more aggressive (possible attack time).  I recommend you ditch the bear spray and carry an air horn!   A loud air horn will scare away 99% of all bears, it is loud and scary to all animals. Bear spray can cause bears to become aggressive when sprayed in the face.  

I could go into stories about how bear spray is counterproductive, but trust me… An air horn works better!

 

So, what have we learned? 

Just be smart out there…  Make noise when you hike, keep the dogs close to you, avoid bears if possible, and if you do come in contact with one don’t run just back away slowly. 

Don’t be scared, be smart, be BEAR SMART!

 

Go make some memories out there (there is nothing to fear)

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Eric A.

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