Precautions Around Bears: How to Stay Safe

July 11, 2022

Matthew Carroll

Matthew Carroll

Hunting bears is one thing, but surviving a bear attack? Easy! Well, that is if you know what to do or your name is Hugh Glass. Since most of us lack the outward toughness Glass exhibited after his mauling by a grizzly in 1823 (and spawning the book and movie, The Revenant). The best way to survive a bear attack is to never get into one in the first place. But should you encounter a bear, it is essential that you know what to do.  

The First Step 

The first step to proper bear safety is being able to identify the three kinds of bears that live in North America. Since most people won’t run into a polar bear, the two that are the most prevalent in America and Canada are black bears and grizzlies.  

Black Bears 

Black bears tend to be, well, black, though they can also come in a variety of colors, such as shades of brown, blonde and even cinnamon. Another way of deciphering between a black bear and a grizzly bear is the presence of a hump on the shoulders. Black bears do not have this hump and will have a much flatter looking back and shoulder area. 

Grizzly Bears 

Grizzly bears, on the other hand, have that noticeable hump on their shoulders and have flat faces with round, short ears. Grizzlies are also less populous in the contiguous United States than black bears and tend to inhabit the Northwestern region of America–as well as Alaska and Canada.  

But once you identify the kind of bear, what do you do then? Click here to find out. 

General Tips for Staying Safe

When venturing into bear country, it’s essential to prioritize safety for both humans and these magnificent creatures. Here are key tips on how to stay safe:

  1. Bear Awareness: Learn about the types of animals in your area. Grizzly and black bears have distinct behaviors and responses.
  2. Make Noise: They often avoid humans if they know you’re coming. Use bells, talk, or clap your hands to signal your presence.
  3. Carry Bear Spray: Keep bear spray accessible and know how to use it effectively.
  4. Store Food Securely: They have an excellent sense of smell, so hang food in bear-proof containers or use bear canisters.
  5. Stay Calm: If you encounter a bear, remain calm, speak softly, and back away slowly. Never run.
  6. Respect Their Space: Maintain a safe distance and avoid getting between a bear and its cubs.
  7. Hike in Groups: They are less likely to approach larger groups of people.
  8. Follow Park Regulations: Abide by local rules and guidelines for bear encounters.

By respecting their natural habitats and following these guidelines, you can enjoy the wilderness safely while protecting these incredible animals.

Read more stories about bear safety on iSportsmanUSA.


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