Keeping Yourself Safe from Bears in the Wild

Posted by David Moore on

Staying safe in the wild requires taking several precautions. This is particularly true if you are exploring an area where bears are known to live. To ensure you remain safe while spending time in the great outdoors, there are a few precautionary steps that you should take.

Preventing Bear Attacks

Encountering a bear in the wild can be an exciting moment. At the same time, bears are sometimes unpredictable and can cause serious injuries. Therefore, you should avoid encountering a bear by keeping your distance and making noise so you do not accidentally surprise the bear by seemingly sneaking up on it. Some other ways to prevent bear attacks include:

  • Hike with a group, as groups tend to be noisier and smellier. Groups are also more intimidating to bears because they appear larger.
  • Never allow bears to access your food. All food should be kept in a bear-resistant food storage locker .
  • Trash should be disposed of in a bear-resistant receptacle in order to prevent bears from being attracted to your campsite.

What to Do When Encountering a Bear

Despite your best efforts, you may still find yourself encountering a bear in the wild. If this happens, you should take these steps in order to prevent the problem from worsening.

  • If you have small children with you, pick them up immediately.
  • Stand your ground and slowly wave your arms to help the bear identify you as human.
  • Never scream, imitate the bear, make a high-pitched squeal or make sudden movements. The bear may stand in order to get a better look at you. Typically, a standing bear is simply curious, not threatening.
  • Continue talking to the bear in low tones. It may react defensively by yawning, woofing, growling, salivating, laying its ears back and snapping its jaws.
  • Do not drop your pack, as it can provide you with extra protection.
  • If the bear is remaining stationary, move slowly away sideways. Not only is this non-threatening, but it also allows you to keep an eye on the bear without tripping.

If possible, you should leave the area. Otherwise, wait for the bear to move away, making sure to leave an escape route for the bear to use. Always remember that bears can run as fast as a racehorse and will chase fleeing animals. Bears are also excellent tree climbers, so do not climb a tree in hopes of getting away.

Fending Off a Bear Attack

If you are attacked by a bear, you should play dead against brown/grizzly bears. The opposite is true with black bears. Fighting back against brown/grizzly bears will typically just increase the intensity of the attack. With a black bear, you should concentrate kicks and blows to the face and muzzle and then run to a secure place if possible. With brown/grizzly bears, you should lay flat on your stomach with your hands behind your neck. Spread your legs in order to make it more difficult for the bear to flip you over. You should only fight if the attack persists.

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