Bear Safety for Spring

04 15 2015

Bear with text "When the sleeping bears wake"



Birds are chirping, temperatures are rising and bears are coming out of hibernation. After a long slumber, bears (just like many humans) make it their first order of business to locate food. This search for sustenance might lead a bear wandering into your yard or campsite, which means now is a good time to start thinking about bear safety.

Bear Safety at Home

As Jami Markle of the Department of Natural Resources recently pointed out in an interview with MPR News, “It’s important all year but more important in the spring, to really secure anything that would be smelled or considered by a bear as food around your home.” Be sure to secure your garbage and pet foods (if outside).

We were reminded that “outdoor grills are [among] the most common bear invitations,” by Estes Park News. So if you do light up the grill this spring (or anytime of the year, for that matter), have bear spray on hand in case a bear gets too close.

Bear Safety While Camping

If you plan on going camping this spring, there are additional precautions you can take. We know that “[b]ears are generally shy and usually avoid humans,” (Estes Park News) - so simply warning bears that you are near can help you avoid close encounters. Wearing bear bells prevents you from startling bears and triggering aggressive behaviors.

Remember that food odors tend to lure bears into human areas, so put your campsite’s food in a bear safe. The safe will keep odors in, minimizing a bear’s chance of detecting your food. And just like when you’re grilling at home, have your bear spray on hand when you cook over the fire.

Close Encounters

Travis Pearson of The Sheridan Press covered a story about Clifford Reed’s run-in with a bear: “One minute he was walking through the darkness, and in an instant the Dayton resident was face-to-face with a black bear almost close enough to shake his hand. [...] Fact is, as humans branch further and further into the wilderness, confrontations with bears, wolves and mountain lions are inevitable.” So, keep bear safety in mind as you explore the great outdoors.

See also: Maine’s bears are starting to wake up. Here are 6 tips to avoid a confrontation via Bangor Daily News