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Staff Resources

Staying Safe in Bear Country

March 20, 2014

Staying Safe in Bear Country


Bears take advantage of whatever food is available in their home range. They are attracted by sights, sounds, memories, and particularly smells. Bears can smell garbage from a mile away and if they are rewarded with an easy meal they learn very quickly to repeat behaviors. Wild bears normally have a fear of people. If they are allowed to forage for food near us, they can quickly become habituated to our presence and become bolder in their actions. Soon enough, whether it is a black bear or a grizzly, someone will feel threatened. Once a bear learns to forage near people, it is usually too late to discourage the bear.

Avoiding Bear Problems!


A person’s best defense against bears is to avoid them. Preventing the attraction of bears through proper food storage, garbage disposal and camp maintenance is the most economical and effective way to reduce bear problems. However, bears are sometimes attracted to clean and well-maintained camps.

  • Keep the camp clean
  • Bears are creatures of opportunity; if you provide them with a food source, they will take it.
  • Make sure that no food (including garbage) is made available to bears at any time.
  • Note the behavior of other wildlife in the area. Flocks of ravens can alert you to a possible

animal carcass, and perhaps a bear. The area should be avoided. Birds or squirrels alarm

calls  might be telling you that a bear is near.

  • Make lots of noise.
    • Limit your workday so you are not out in the early morning or evening when bears are most likely to be foraging.


If You Encounter a Bear


  • Never run; you cannot outrun a bear and running may excite the bear and cause an attack.
  • Do not harass or chase the bear.
  • Get back in doors or if a vehicle is nearby, get in as quickly as possible.
  • Stay calm and size up the situation; try to determine if the bear is a grizzly or a black bear.
  • If bear cubs are in the area, move away from them.
  • In an encounter with a non-charging bear or a bear with cubs, you should appear passive; do not raise your voice
  • Slowly back away from the bear; if the bear continues to move toward you, drop your backpack or other belongings – this may distract the bear.


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