While bear attacks are not a common occurrence, they are becoming more frequent than in the past. Part of the reason for this increase in attacks is due to humans moving into more rural areas where bears live. Another reason for an increase in bear attacks is more people are camping and hiking in bear country.
Knowledge can significantly decrease the probability that you will be attacked by a bear and may help you survive if you are attacked. Important things to know include: the geographic range of bear species; how to identify bears; how to avoid a bear encounter; what to do if you have an encounter and what to do if you are attacked. Knowing this information and putting it to use can save your life.
The one and only way to guarantee you will avoid a bear encounter is to stay out of areas where bears live. For many people that just isn’t an option because they love hiking, biking, hunting, camping or just being in nature. If you are a geologist or environmental scientist, your job may require that you go into bear country. So, if you will be where bears live, here are some things that you can do to reduce the possibility of encountering a bear.
Make your presence known while you are hiking. Don’t be a stealth hiker. Hike in a group, the more the merrier. Making noise such as talking and singing gives an early warning to bears that they are not alone. This will allow them to walk away from the noise to avoid an encounter.
Be on the lookout for active bear signs such as fresh tracks or fresh bear scat. If possible, avoid feeding areas such as berry patches and stream banks where bears may be feeding or drinking. Hiking in midday will reduce the chance of encountering a bear, as they are less active at that time.