We’ve all heard the horror stories of bears attacking humans. But most of these attacks happen when humans are in the bear’s territory.
If you’re planning to go hiking or camping in the wild, you’ll need to know how to avoid bears so you can enjoy the wild in safety. Ready? Let’s get started.
Bear Attacks Continue to Grow
Unfortunately, most scientists agree that encounters between bears and man will continue to grow. While deadly attacks are still rare, the numbers are rising. This is due to:
- The growing population
- Restrictions on hunting
- More people living in or close to bear habitats
Between 1900 and 2009, 63 people were killed by black bears. 80% of those attacks occurred after 1960. And 17 of those attacks happened after 2000.
However, it’s not just black bears you need to worry about. Black bears are the least confrontational bear compared to polar bears and grizzlies. They can easily escape to the top of trees so haven’t evolved defending themselves.
Grizzlies kill twice as many people as black bears, even though there are about 15 times more black bears in North America.
Bear Protection Tips in the Wild
Knowledge is power when it comes to avoiding bears. Most bears are afraid of people and won’t attack unless provoked. This is especially true of female bears with cubs, who are only likely to attack if they feel you’re threatening their babies.
You should also carry a basic survival kit with you whenever you’re near bear habitat.
Here are some bear protection tips to keep you safe in the wild.
Make lots of noise
Surprising a bear makes it much more likely to attack. When you’re walking you need to make plenty of noise. Try:
- Clapping your hands
- Ringing bells
- Singing or playing music
- Talking loudly
Leave your dog at home
Bad news if you want to take Fido for a hike in bear country. Dogs can provoke bears and draw them to you. If you must take your dog, always keep them on a leash so you’ve got them under control.
If you do surprise a bear, you can easily take the dog with you and leave the area.
It’s important to stay calm if you do see a bear, as this will encourage your dog to do the same. A dog barking or straining at its lead is likely to lead to an attack.
Be careful with food
If you’re setting up camp, check that there’s no discarded food. Make sure you keep your food (and any dog food) safely locked away in bear-proof containers.
All of your food (even if it’s wrapped) should be kept at least 100 ft from your tent. The same goes for any clothing you wear while cooking food and any utensils you’re using.
Keep an eye out for signs of bears in the area, including poop, scratched trees, or bear tracks.
Avoid eye contact
If you come across a bear, avoid making eye contact with it. Bears may see this as a threat or challenge.
If the bear stands up, it’s not likely to attack and is instead trying to hear, smell, and see you better. Speak firmly to it in a low-pitched voice as you back away.
Stay away from cubs
If you come across a black bear, they’ll usually send their cubs up the nearest tree and guard them at the bottom. This gives you the perfect opportunity to move away. The worst thing you can do is to come between the cub and the mother bear.
Running will encourage the bear to think of you as prey and it will chase you. It will catch you. You may think that you can climb a tree but this is a bad move as most bears are great climbers.
Now that you’re equipped with the best bear protection tips, why not check out this post for more survival tips!