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In this guide, we teach you how to avoid bear attacks. This is a very important topic for most campers, as bears can be found in practically any forest. We will teach you how to avoid bears in the first place, and what to do if you get attacked.
What Causes Bears to Attack
Bears don’t typically go out with intention of attacking humans unless they are predatory. But there are a few things that will make a bear attack a human:
- Surprise: Taking a bear by surprise by appearing next to it may cause it to attack in self-defense.
- Food: Dripping pan grease onto the ground is not a good idea, and neither is keeping food out in the open. It is important to put all foods in plastic containers so that the smell does not get out and attract bears.
- Cubs: If you spot a cub, chances are that the parent is nearby. Parents of cubs will do anything to protect them, including attacking humans.
- Predator: Some bears are simply predators and are out to hunt humans for food.
Where Do Bears Hang Out?
During camping season, you can find bears hanging out at lower elevations by bodies of water. They will hang out by streams and lakes and go back and forth between the water and their home.
Grizzly bears in particular normally come out at dusk and at dawn, and sometimes roam in the middle of the night.
You can find bears in thick wooded areas where they use the lush vegetation as a place to rest. This is one of the reasons why you do not want to go into dense forests, especially since taking one by surprise will make them attack.
How To Stay Away
Although there is no surefire way of keeping away from bears, there are a few precautions that you can take in order to minimize the risk.
- Make plenty of noise: Never hike in a dense forest alone. Make plenty of noise while walking on the track. This will help bears recognize that you are there and they will usually keep away.
- Store food in plastic containers: Food droppings such as cooking grease on the ground is sure to attract bears if they are nearby. Put all of your food in plastic containers so that no smell comes out of it.
- Watch for animal carcasses: If you see an animal carcass on the ground, stay away from that area of the woods. Bears frequently go back and forth to the carcass in order to eat it.
- Park news: Stay informed about bear activity of the park that you are going to. Have there been any bear sightings lately?
How To Defend Yourself
All the above serve to minimize the risks, but attacks can still happen. If you do see a bear charging towards you, or if a bear has seen you and they are not going away, do the following:
- Use bear mace: Always keep bear mace in hand when you are going out on a hike. Always know where your bear mace is so that you can grab it quickly. We suggest that you do a practice run with empty canisters of bear mace before you go camping. This will train your muscle memory to grab it quickly.
- No eye contact: Looking a bear in the eye with an act of aggression in their minds. Never look them in the eye.
- Act human: If you act aggressive, the bear will be aggressive. Act human and speak human with your group. This will let the bear know that you are not a threat.
- Slowly walk away: Once you have a bear in your line of sight, slowly walk away. Do not run!
Bear Attack Training
The following video will show you what to do in the event that a bear is actually attacking you.