Saturday, October 15, 2011

Camping And Hiking In Black Bear Country

Dijukno confrontation by a large predator is a frightening thing to encounter?  Bears are some of our largest carnivores.  and they demand our respect.  Use caution to avoid placing yourself in a dangerous situation.
Knowing what to do if you find yourself in such a situation may save your life.

Black bears, and Grizzly bears have different behavior patterns.  They require a different approach to avoid becoming a fatality.  Black bears are not as large as Grizzlies, but they are very strong and can exceed 500 pounds. Under normal circumstances, a Black bear will not attack, but when they do, they are very aggressive.  They will continue to attack and, you must fight back, or they can kill you.  If you are attacked, the steps advised to survive a Grizzly attack will not work with Black bears.

Tolerance, and an appreciation for the unpredictable nature of wildlife, is extremely important.  Negative encounters are often a result of human carelessness rather than an aggressive act by the animal. This is especially true with bears.  

Most bear attacks are caused by surprising a bear and can be prevented. Understanding bear behavior and recognizing bear sign are important when hiking or camping in bear country.

Black Bear Facts:

·         Prefer to avoid humans

·         Very curious, resourceful, and intelligent

·         Keen sense of smell more powerful than dogs; can detect odors over a mile away

·         Goes without food for 6 to 7 months during hibernation in their northern range

·         Excellent memory and remembers food sources for many years

·         Nervous, shy, easily frightened - can cause serious injury if startled, cornered, or provoked

·         Will take advantage of readily available food

·         Becomes bolder when hungry or habituated

·         Very powerful and strong

·         Proficient at climbing, swimming, and running

·         Often avoids open areas and prefers protective cover of trees and shrubs

·         Diet consists of approximately 85% vegetables; including nuts, berries, seeds, grasses

·         Stands up on hind legs NOT to attack but out of curiosity and to get a better look or smell

Before Your Trip:

·         Plan ahead and prepare.  Contact the local wildlife agency or park headquarters for information about the area wildlife, hiking/camping procedures and precautions as well as for any current bear aware tips.

·         Familiarize yourself with bear behavior and sign. Click here for suggested reading on bear safety.

·         If camping, learn various ways of hanging food, or use a bear canister.

·         Be sure tent, sleeping bags, and your skin are free of any lingering food odors.

·         Avoid packing odorous food, fragrant cosmetic, toiletries, etc. Use bear proof containers.

·         Bring extra bags for leftovers and for packing out garbage, if necessary.

·         Pack a flashlight.

·         Avoid taking a dog or keep it leashed.

During A Hike:

·         Travel in groups. Do not allow children to stray or run ahead.

·         Remain on trail and never hike at night.

·         Discard garbage in bear proof trash containers, or pack it out in sealed plastic bags. Always practice Leave NoTrace.

·         Don't surprise a bear! Use caution when traveling in windy weather, down wind, approaching blind curves, dense vegetation, and noisy streams, where a bear may not see, smell or hear you coming. Stop, look, and listen. Make noise before approaching these areas.

·         Circling birds or offensive odors may indicate an animal carcass.  Avoid this area or use extreme caution.

·         Never leave any food or backpack unattended.

·         Bears are naturally afraid of humans, but may become accustomed to people along popular hiking trails.

·         Keep the area safe for humans and bears by never feeding or approaching bears. Should a bear come near you it is most likely curious or smells something interesting.

·         If it stands up, it isn't going to attack but is trying to get a better look or smell.

·         Bear attacks are extremely rare and by comparison a person is more likely to be killed doing their normal daily routine.

Bear Encounter Guidelines:

·         If a bear approaches you, stay calm.

·         DO NOT RUN.  Running may provoke a chase response in the bear.

·         Pick up small children so they don't run, scream, or panic.

·         Gather the group together, and restrain your dog.

·         Let the bear know you are human, talk in a soothing voice, lift arms overhead to look bigger.

·         Slowly back away and avoid direct eye contact with the bear.

·         If the bear lunges, snaps it's jaws, slaps ground, or brushes with a paw, it feels threatened, and you are too close.

·         The bear may also suddenly rush forward and stop as a "bluffing" tactic to intimidate you to leave; momentarily hold your ground, then keep backing away, and talking softly.

·         Don't crowd the bear.  Leave it a clear escape route.

·         Retreat from the area, or make a very wide detour around the bear.

·         If it continues to follow you, stand your ground, yell, clap your hands, wave your arms, or throw something toward it.  Repeat until it leaves.

·         As a last resort, drop something like a hat to distract the bear, but avoid tossing it food, or your backpack as it will quickly learn to confront  other humans for food rewards.


·         Choose an open site away from dense vegetation, natural food areas, forest cover, or natural pathways

·         Avoid messy sites, and areas with signs of bear activity like torn apart logs, tracks, trampled brush, scat, and claw marks on trees.

·         Secure all scented items by hanging them at least 10 feet off the ground, and 5 feet from a tree.

·         Restrict all cooking, eating, cleaning activities, and food storage to 100 feet downwind from your tents.

·         Do not sleep outside of your tent, or with any "smellable scents" in your tent including empty food wrappers.

·         Never leave any food scraps or garbage out.  Leave No Trace

·         Wash dishes and utensils immediately.  Dispose of waste water downwind 100 feet from the sleeping area.

·         Always use flashlight when moving around at night.

·         Store all food and odorous attractants; including garbage, and cooking clothes in sealed bags, or in a bear proof storage container.


1 comment :

  1. I really enjoyed Bear Encounter Guidelines, this is life risky camping, on my knowledge better to avoid this type of things...


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