Bears and Wolves
Back country enthusiasts, adventurers and ecotourists hoping to experience wildlife, specifically bears, beyond the confines of their local zoo, must first become familiar with basic safety guidelines. How does someone “going on a bear hunt” to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural environment and live to tell the tale?
Bear Safety Tips
Gather current information: When mapping out the trip, build in time to stop by the visitors center or ranger station to gather information on recent bear activity in the area and ask if any trails or campgrounds are closed. Never enter a closed trail.
Always hike with a companion: It is best to hike in a group or you may choose to join a ranger guided hike. Leave your pet at home as a dog would naturally consider a bear to be its enemy and could unintentionally provoke an attack.
Hike during daylight hours: Bears tend to forage for food near ripe berry patches and streams. They are most active in the early morning and just before sunset; therefore it is wise to hike during the day.
Create noise: Bear attacks are extremely rare, but when they happen it is typically due to being surprised. A combination of clapping and shouting are effective in generating a lot of noise. Increase your efforts as you approach noisy streams, walk around a blind corner, if the day is windy or if you are hiking near heavy vegetation.
Observe bears from a safe distance: The sounds made by a camera along with its flash have been known to startle bears. Remember to keep your distance, resist the temptation to photograph the bear and never approach or attempt to feed a bear.
Leave a clean camp: Food odors may attract bears, therefore store strong smelling foods and cooking utensils in a tightly sealed container. Keep these items, along with any coolers or toiletries, a safe distance from the tent. Be sure to pack out all garbage.
Remain calm: If you see a bear do not scream, as this may startle the bear. Never turn your back on a bear. Slowly leave the area by backing away because running could provoke a chase.
What to do if Attacked
Act submissive: Bear attacks are unusual and typically occur when a bear is surprised or perceives a threat. If you are attacked roll into a ball on the ground by pulling your knees up to your chest and interlock your fingers behind your neck. Leave your backpack on as it may provide added protection. The bear will leave the area when it no longer feels threatened. Remain silent and unmoving until you are sure the bear is gone.
Many people enjoy hiking into the forests to get away from it all and witnessing a bear along the way can be a thrilling experience. Remembering that bears are wild animals and taking the necessary precautions can go a long way toward making your adventure a pleasant one.
Articles about Bears and Wolves
Wildlife Travel: Black Bears
Wildlife Travel: Grizzly Bears
Wildlife Travel: Polar Bears
Wildlife Travel: Wolves
News about Bears and Wolves
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The Wall of Bears
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