When it comes to camping, there is nothing more exciting than experiencing the rugged feel of the great outdoors. From the quiet streams, a breathtaking landscape, the soft whisper of the forest to a bear attack.
Yes you’ve read correctly. So that we understand each other; When in the wild, there is a chance that you will encounter real wildlife. This can usually range from birds, rabbits, and perhaps the occasional skunk, but there are times when an encounter with bears is possible.
Here we’re going to take a look at how to make sure everyone is safe when encountering bears in the wild. In this article, I have shared some important tips to avoid bear attacks while enjoying the great outdoors.
RELATED: How to Survive a Bear Encounter
Bear Attack – The Best Safety Precautions When Camping
Types of bears
North America is home to a variety of bear species, namely the black, brown, grizzly, and polar bear. Of these, only polar bears are interested in humans as a source of food. The rest usually don’t attack you unless you give them a reason to.
While these bears seldom attack humans for predatory purposes and there is no need to fear an irrational bear attack when camping, this issue definitely needs to be treated with the utmost seriousness.
You need to take certain precautions and equip yourself with proper knowledge of how to ward off a bear attack while camping in bear sanctuary. even more so if you intend to take children with you.
Safety tips to avoid a bear attack
If you are planning to enter bear sanctuary, be prepared for the possibility of a bear attack. However, if you take certain bear safety precautions when camping, you can prevent the risk of encountering a bear face to face.
Before setting up your tent at a campsite, it is important to speak to park officials about any recent bear sightings. Rangers or park officials are often well informed about the characteristics and habits of individual bears in the area. This information can help you assess the relative safety of your campsite.
Check the campsite yourself for any signs of bears. Crushed bushes, overturned rocks, uprooted small trees often indicate bear activity. You can also look for bear tracks, markings on trees (bears often leave claw bark behind as a sign of their territory), and their droppings.
If the campsite is littered with leftover food or rubbish from previous campers, it is best to vacate it as soon as possible. Nothing attracts bears better than the sight and smell of food.
Instead, opt for a campsite that has a clear view and tall trees that can be climbed nearby. Most bear attacks occur in areas that are shaded and hidden from the main path. If you have to camp in a place covered with dense trees, make sure to use lots of noise to make the wildlife in the area aware of your presence.
Frightening or sneaking up on them will only increase your chances of being attacked. Remember that most bear attacks occur because the animal feels scared and threatened. The fact is, they just defend ourselves from us just as we do from them.
Educate everyone in your group about how they should behave in the wild. Explain the rules and regulations for camping in a bear sanctuary.
During the camping
When setting up your tent, make sure that it is big enough for your family and that there is space between the tent walls and the occupants. Bears have a tendency to bite into anything sticking out of the tent walls!
It is best to cook and eat at least 100 meters away from your tent and downwind. Immediately clear up the sight of where you cooked and ate. Dispose of all leftover food and dispose of all trash in bear-safe bins. Clean the dishes and put them in an airtight bag with all other utensils.
Only cook as much as you are likely to use. If you need to store food, put it in a plastic bag and hang it on a tree. If there are no tall trees nearby, store groceries in multiple Ziploc bags and place them in a large cooler.
When your vehicle is with you at your campsite, you can also place the cool box in the trunk of your car. Keep in mind that bears have a keen sense of smell, and if they suspect food is around they likely won’t rest until they find it. Preventing them from ascending is the real key here.
Also, clean up after cooking and get a change of clothes, as the smell of food left on your clothes can also attract bears. Either pack your dirty clothes in airtight plastic bags or hang them on trees a few feet from your tent.
Make sure you make a lot of noise to alert the bears of your presence. Because they have poor eyesight, they are largely dependent on sounds and smells. So talk, laugh and clap at different intervals. While there is no harm in using bear bells, a human voice is more likely to ward off a curious bear.
When hiking, always move in a group of 6 or more people whenever possible. Lone hikers are more likely to attract bears, while a large group is more likely to scare them away. Also, a large group is naturally loud and noisy.
Keep a canister of pepper spray in your backpack or bag when hiking. Practice pulling out and spraying the contents a couple of times (you never know when you will need it, and the last thing you need is a can that will malfunction when you’re just inches from a bear!) .
Most importantly, you should be vigilant at all times and keep an eye out for any signs of any nearby bears. Know and pay attention to your surroundings. If something seems out of place or different, it could be a sign that a bear is nearby.
During a possible bear attack
So what to do if you get close to a bear after taking all of the above precautions? Should you run? Never! You will not be able to outrun a full-grown bear on any terrain, let alone in its natural habitat.
So the best option for you is to stay where you are and assess the situation. This should give you plenty of time to think as the bear is doing exactly the same thing.
For now, stay calm and try to estimate the distance between you and the bear. When it is far enough away (say more than 100 Ft.), Start moving away from his gaze without drawing too much attention to yourself.
Chances are the bear didn’t even sense your presence unless you obviously made it.
If the bear is looking directly at you and seems to be charging in your direction, stay calm. Most of the time, just carry bluff charges just to scare you off. So take this opportunity to get as far away from the bear as possible without turning your back on him.
If the bear is pretty close and you have nowhere to go, find a tall tree and start climbing as fast as you can. Do not stop until you are well over 10 meters (about 30 feet) from the ground.
Remember that black bears are good climbers, while grizzlies can chase you up to a few meters. Also, they can reach a distance of 10 Ft. as long as they are still on the ground.
If the bear looks like it is serious, try speaking to it in a calm voice. Of course, he won’t understand you, but a human voice can make him believe that you are not a threat.
Frantically wave your arms to show him you are human, not a predator. You can also pick up some sticks and beat them together. Looking as tall as you can can keep the bear from bothering about you.
If nothing helps, pull out your bear spray and start spraying. However, only spray when the bear is less than a few feet away. This will startle and disorient the bear, giving you plenty of time to escape.
Should you encounter a stray cub, even if it may seem cute and harmless, please keep in mind that there is most likely a mother bear nearby. You should never approach or attempt to feed a bear in the wild.
If you come across a female with her cubs or a pack, your chances of winning a fight against her are pretty slim. If so, play dead and pray! Assume a fetal position on the floor and cover your neck with your hands while lying as still as possible.
In fact, your chances of encountering a bear, especially an aggressive one, end up being very rare. That said, you need to prepare for any eventuality of a possible bear attack so that your vacation memories remain bear-free.
While sighting a bear can certainly add an element of thrill and excitement to your trip, make sure that if you do see one, you are only enjoying it from a very safe distance.
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