• 12° North Team

Bear Safety Tips Every Outdoor Active Person Should Know


Reconnecting with nature is a powerful thing -- It has healing powers, keeps us active and healthy gives us the opportunity to return to our tribal instincts with friends and family. The vistas and experiences freely given are intoxicating to nearly everyone. Unfortunately there are many people that still harbor fears of being attacked by wild animals and stay indoors because of those fears. We hope that you'll feel a bit more confident after reading these bear safety tips.

Bears by nature are curious, intelligent animals that would prefer to left alone, especially from human interactions. Thousands of people come across wild bears year after year far from any troubles or incident and being prepared via knowledge is a huge key to what should be successful encounters.

Be Aware Of Your Surroundings

We know we don't have to tell you to pay attention but sometimes a reminder of the obvious is good food for thought in the moment. Always watch out for paw prints, claw marks on trees, even animal scat or carcasses left behind. These are signs that a bear may be locally in the area and you should be aware.

If you see a freshly expired animal, you should immediately vacate the area without running.

Make Noise

It is important to make noise when you hike by talking, clapping, and although we don't recommend the wearer using headphones, by all means feel free to sing along to your favorites; you would be better off with a small radio or iPod and a external speaker. Bears are more likely to attack if they don't know you are in the area. You want to avoid startling a bear with your presence. There are a couple makers of whats termed as a "Bear-Bell" which makes a fair amount of noise but your voice is the most effective tools available.. Best thing too is its free.

If a bear hears you coming or in the area, being a rather timid animal despite beliefs a bear will usually make the first attempt to leave the area to avoid crossing paths.

Hike In Groups

It remains a constant in many things, safety in numbers, especially on the trail. A group of people is certainly to be more intimidating to a bear and albeit an easier task to make plenty of noise.

Pack In, Pack Out

Again, if you follow the "Treading Lightly" principles, this ones a No brainer -- Always pack out your food and garbage. This includes any biodegradable items like apple cores, peels from oranges or bananas, even seeds or pits from fruits like peaches. These things attract bears to your campsite and vehicles.

Bring Bear Spray

Peace of mind comes with being prepared when we're on the trail. A relatively inexpensive yet important note is having a can of bear spray can really be. It's light enough to have dangle from a belt loop or carabiner on a bag close and always within reach. However, as a last defense is when it should be used against an attacking bear. At 10-15 ft away, it's been shown to be highly effective, more over than a gun in defending against a bear attack.

Keep Your Distances

The one mistake I see people do in video after video is how dangerously close they get to a wild bear. How often I wonder how many mislabeled videos there should be as; "Bear encounter goes wrong". It's one thing to stumble upon a bear, it is another to approach it. never approach a bear. As tame as a bear might seem to you, some bears are used to a human presence, more so if there are campsites, trails, or nearby populated areas. Nothing worse than a food conditioned animal -- an animal that's been rewarded with food by humans is highly dangerous and can be more likely to attack. Always observe such creatures with a camera or through binoculars.

And a even higher word of caution. NEVER get between a mother bear and her cubs. respect the family of bears and leave them to themselves.

Recommended

Bear Spray

While its largely important to remember that there is more than just a can of bear spray to proper bear safety. Bears, cougars and other large animals call the mountains and nearby wildernesses home and its better to be prepared than not.

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Backcountry Bear Basics: The Definitive Guide to Avoiding Unpleasant Encounters (Mountaineers Outdoor Basics)

Backcountry Bear Basics lays out practical strategies for steering clear of dangerous situations, debunks common myths and fears about bears, and highlights new research.

There are no myths, rumors, or horror stories in the newest edition of Backcountry Bear Basics. It provides tested strategies to help you avoid conflict with black bears and grizzlies.

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