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Teddy bears. Yogi Bear. Winnie the Pooh. In our culture, some bears have a cute and cuddly image.
In nature, however, bears do not always live up to that popular perception. These are wild animals, after all. They need to eat, so they may raid your campground or vehicle for food. Although most bears don’t consider humans prey, some species, such as grizzly bears and polar bears, may even look at you as lunch. Even smaller, more widespread and common species, like black bears, have caused fatalities. In addition, momma bears will defend their cubs fiercely if you make the mistake of getting in between them.
Although bears can primarily be a danger in the woods and wilderness, they can also lumber into civilization occasionally. Polar bears sometimes go into Arctic villages looking for food. Black bears, the most common type of bear in the U.S., have been known to wander into towns and suburbs. In some parks and campgrounds, black bears can become a nuisance, raiding garbage cans and tearing apart campsites in their quest for an easy meal.
So, whether you’re planning on jogging or biking in your nearest county park or camping solo in the Alaskan bush, it’s important to know about bear safety if it’s possible you might encounter a bear. Attacks are rare, but they are a possibility, especially if you are in bear country. Here are a few basic tips that will help ensure any encounters between you and bears will be less dangerous for all.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, people using bear spray were injured far less often and less seriously than other weapons. These studies have proven that a good bear spray is actually more effective at deterring bear attacks. One reason may be that using bear spray doesn’t require the pinpoint aim that other weapons do.
As an added benefit, bear spray will only temporarily incapacitate a bear, making it safer for you, the environment, and the bear.
If you choose to carry bear spray, it’s a good idea to practice using it before you go out in the woods or back country. Dealing with an aggressive bear is no time to learn the finer points of effectively deploying your bear spray.
To avoid surprising bears as you hike, let them know you are coming. Simply talking loudly, even if you’re by yourself, can help alert bears to your presence.
Other popular options are available. By attaching bear bells to your pack, clothing or other gear, you can give bears safe notice of your approach.
Bear horns provide an even louder announcement of your arrival in the bears’ home turf. Periodic blasts from these very loud air horns as you make your way along a trail or path will let bears know you are in the area.
If you do happen to run into a bear unexpectedly, try not to immediately panic. First, try to determine what the bear is doing. Perhaps it doesn’t even notice you. Maybe it is moving away from you.
On the other hand, perhaps it has noticed you and is moving toward you. After you have assessed the situation, it’s time to act. If the bear is in your way, consider taking another route. Or be patient and wait for it to move off.
If it starts toward you aggressively, don’t run. That could trigger its predator instinct. If you’re running or hiking, pull out your bear spray and prepare to use it. If you’re on a bicycle, put your bike between yourself and the bear and deploy your bear spray. Then move away to safety while the bear is incapacitated from the bear spray.
Keeping Bears at Bay While Camping
If you are camping in bear country, do everything you can to avoid inadvertently luring bears to your campsite. Don’t leave scraps of food around the campsite or in your tent. Store your food in a tree or another safe place where its scent won’t lure a hungry bear.
Whether you are camping or just hiking in bear country, bear safes, also known as bear canisters, are a smart way to keep hungry bears away. Watertight and scent-proof, these products are easy for humans to open and access their meals and snacks but practically impossible for bears to get into.
Be safe – go wild with SABRE. Not sure about which products are right for you or have questions? Instant-chat with us, email or call our customer-service staff toll-free during normal business hours. We are here to help and are dedicated to your total satisfaction.