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4 Top Bear Protection Tips

In: Wilderness Safety

Every time I see a wild bear in the wilderness, it is often the highlight of a trip for me! On many different backpacking trips in Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, Glacier National Parks, Sierra National Forest,  I had the opportunity from a distance to spot them.  Every time I see one, the rush of adrenaline always goes up.   After covering over hundred of miles of trails solo while working in Glacier in the summer of 2018, I have learned few tips to be safe in their territory.

Things I have Learned About Bears:

Bear attacks happen due to surprise by silent hikers, curiosity, invaded personal space (this includes a mother bear protecting her young), predatory intent, hunting wounded, carcass defense, and provoked charge.  Bears also have an incredible acute sense of smell, and they can smell your food a mile away.

Bear Protection Tips To Keep in Mind

1. Make Noise

Bears will usually move out of the way if they hear people approaching, so MAKE NOISE! Most bells are not enough. Calling out and clapping hands loudly are regular intervals are better ways to make your presence known. According to Tim Rubbert who published a book called Hiking Safely in the Grizzly Country says, “Making noise is the one tactic that offers the greatest protection against a negative encounter with a grizzly.” Making noise will not guarantee that you will not run into a grizzly, but it will lessen the risk that you will surprise one at close range.  A brown bear on the other hand constantly surprised by quiet hikers may become habituated to human and less likely to avoid people. This sets up a dangerous situation for both visitors and bears. Hiking quietly endangers you, the bear and other hikers.

2.  Carry a Bear Spray

In the grizzly country, it is always best to carry a bear spray! Bear Spray are non-toxic and non-lethal. Bear Spray has proven to be effective for fending off threatening and attacking bears, and for preventing injury to the person and the animal. Under no circumstances should bear spray create a false sense of security or serve as a substitute for standard safety precautions in bear country. Environmental factors, including strong wind and heavy rain, can reduce the effectiveness of bear spray.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions:

You can’t predict when and where bears might be encountered along a trail. People often assume they don’t have to make noise while hiking on a well-used trail. Some of the most frequently used trails in the park are surrounded by excellent bear habitat. People have been charged and injured by bears fleeing from silent hikers who unwittingly haven’t seen bears along a trail section recently, don’t assume that bears aren’t there. Don’t assume a bear’s hearing is any better than your own. Some trail conditions make it hard for bears to see, hear, or smell approaching hikers. Be particularly careful by streams, against the wind, or in dense vegetation. A blind corner or a rise in the trail also requires special attention.

4. Don’t Approach Bears

Bears spend a lot of time eating, so avoid hiking in obvious feeding areas like berry patches, cow warship thickets, or fields of glacier lilies. Keep children close by. Hike in groups and avoid hiking early in the morning. Never intentionally get close to a bear. Individual bears have their own personal space requirements, which vary depending on their mood. Each will react differently and its behavior can’ t be predicted. All bears are potentially dangerous and should be respected equally.