While bear attacks are rare, If you like camping, like I do, you should always be prepared! Bear attacks have increased lately in many parts of the US, due partly to growing grizzly and human populations, and partly to habitat loss, human intrusion, food shortages and even climate changes. After having read this article you’ll learn some bear safety tips that made me feel more relaxed when I travel.
WHAT WILL YOU DO IN THIS SITUATION? Watch the whole video (28 seconds)
So if you don’t know for sure or if your instinct tells you to run, you should read this article. I recommend reading this article even to townspeople who don’t go camping that often.
My personal bear encounters
You know I enjoy hiking and camping and many times I’ve seen bears in their natural habitat. My first bear encounter was about ten years ago near Kamiah, Idaho. I was walking on a forest path when I bumped into a big black bear looking straight at me, about 25 feet away. I can tell you: no matter what is the size of your balls, just tasting the feeling you’ll be eaten gets you shivering to the bones. I didn’t know much back then, and I was lucky because my friends caught me up and the bear decided to leave us alone. Well, after that I was very determined to prepare myself for this kind of situations. And it was a wise decision because in the past 10 years I have had at least 6 similar situations, including 2 grizzlies. Because I knew what to do none of them attacked me.
Preventing Bear Attacks
The bear attacks when he’s very hungry or feels threatened (especially a female with cubs). Usually the bear doesn’t attack people; almost all recorded bear attacks in the wild have resulted from the human surprising the bear. Hunters are the people most at risk of bear attacks because they wear camouflage and don’t make any noise. However, a bear’s first reaction upon detecting a human is to run away.
When you camp in areas with bears, try not to draw bears through the smell of food, which is the main element that attracts them around people. Do not keep food in the same tent with you! Do not keep clothes or dishes that smells of food near you. Keep the area clean. Pack the trash out and try to burn the garbage. Also make noise! Even if you are alone try speaking with yourself or try saying whatever comes through your mind. And even if the bear sees you, don’t stop shouting. If it’s not a female with cubs you may try scaring him away:
70% of bear attacks In USA are caused by mothers defending their cubs
First of all, to handle a bear attack, we have to identify the type of the bear. We’ll act accordingly to the strength and behavior we’re up against. So, let’s see who our attacker is:
750.000 in USA
GRIZZLY (BRAUN) BEAR
Only 75.000 in USA
Moderate aggressive and dangerous
Aggressive and dangerous
Very aggressive and dangerous
From black to light blonde
Usually medium to dark brown
110 – 400 lbs. Smaller than Grizzly
350 – 800 lbs. Usually 400 lbs!
900 – 1600 lbs. Bigger than Grizzly
Around 2.5 – 3 feet. at shoulder. Smaller than Grizzly
Around 3.3 – 6.5 feet at shoulder.
Around 5 – 8 feet at shoulder.
No hump of muscles in its upper back
A hump of muscles in its upper back
Slender bodies and longer necks and heads
Larger, pointed ears
Short, round ears.
Short, round ears
Shorter, around 1.5 inches
Very long (2 -4 inches)
Very, very long. Up to 12 inches!
How To Survive a Black Bear Attack
If the bear doesn’t see you, try not to surprise him. Detour quickly and quietly.
If the bear sees you
1.If a bear hardly sees you, try to get yourself noticed while he is still far away. Talk, whistle and move so that the bear can realize that you’re human, while trying not to seem like a threat!
2.If the bear pursues you, throw something onto the ground as he may be distracted by this.
3.If the bear is already close, try to remain calm and avoid sudden movements. Give the bear plenty of room and back away.
4.Don’t make eye contact!
5.Don’t run! They will take you as a prey and they will catch you because they definitely can run faster than you. If this man would have run, he would have been attacked.
6.Don’t climb a tree. They are excellent climbers.
7.Be as firm as you can even if the bear seems violent. Black bears often bluff when they attack
Only if the bear attacks you
1.Use bear pepper spray. Try to use it when the bear is 40 to 50 feet away, creating a wall of pepper spray in front of you.
2.In case you don t have bear pepper spray and you end up at close range, there are two options, depending on how big or aggressive the bear is (supposing if you confront a female bear, choose only option b):
a. Fight back in any possible way! Make noise and use anything you find as a weapon. In the end, bless the bear with a kick where he expects less: in his snout or his eyes. If he feels you’re determined, he will leave you alone. Never run away! If I had had done that, I would probably have been killed 6 times by now. Let him move away. One man had this crazy idea of grabbing the bears tongue:
b. Drop to the ground in the fetal position and cover the back of your neck with your hands. This is the most harmless submissive position to a bear, a position that would confirm him that you are not a threat to him. If the bear is still coming after you, the head and vital organs are protected, and, thus, you have a much better chance to escape and survive a bear attack. If you feel that the bear does not respond, you can try to slap him over his snout (not a joke) and, consequently, he might leave you alone.
How To Survive a Grizzly Bear Attack
If he does not see you, try not to surprise him. Detour quickly and quietly.
If the bear sees you:
1. If a bear hardly sees you, try to get yourself noticed while he is still far away. Talk, whistle and move so that the bear can realize that you’re human, while trying not to seem like a threat!
2. If the bear pursues you, throw something onto the ground as he may be distracted by this.
3. If the bear is already close, try to remain calm and avoid sudden movements. Give the bear plenty of room and back away.
4. Don’t make eye contact!
5. Don’t run! They will take you as a prey and they will catch you because they definitely can run faster than you.
Only if the bear attacks you
1. Use bear pepper spray. Try to use it when the bear is 40 to 50 feet away, creating a wall of pepper spray in front of you. In case you don t have bear pepper spray and you end up at close, choose the next option.
2. Drop to the ground in the fetal position and cover the back of your neck with your hands. Do not fight back!
3. Play dead and try not to outrun or overpower anymore If you show the bear that he has no reason to be afraid of you, he might leave you alone. Once the bear backs off, stay quiet and still as long as possible. Bears will often watch from a distance and come back if they see movement.
4. Box its nose or eyes. This could feasibly thwart a grizzly attack, but only fight back as a last resort. Playing dead is the most recommended strategy with grizzlies. If you can get free, though, back away slowly; still don’t run.
How To Survive a Polar Bear Attack
If the bear doesn’t see you, consider yourself lucky and do not attract attention!
If the bear sees you
– DO act like a threat!
– Don’t run! Even if you were in the valley and you are an Olympics athlete. A polar bear, despite appearance, runs 40 km / h, more than your average running speed on ice and snow.
– Don’t play dead! He would consider you a prey and he would eat you with the speed of a thunder.
– If he approaches you try to still act like a threat. I know it seems impossible, but stand up, speak loudly and act like he should be scared of you.
– You can also scare the bear by throwing something at him; even a lighted match could work. If you have a flare gun, use it!
– If he still continues approach, throw your backpack in his face or whatever you have on yourself; polar bears are very curious and you can distract him
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