Living with wildlife is part of the camping experience and bear encounter is one of the most revered. Bears are feared forest animals. Although no one can deny the beauty of these majestic critters, few people want to encounter one on a hike. Fortunately, most bears prefer to avoid contact with humans and will go out of their way to avoid meeting you on a trail. Yet, knowing how to prevent and handle a bear encounter will give you confidence when you venture into the woods. Check out the camping tips below:
Bear Encounter Tips
Travel in Groups
Experienced campers know that hiking in groups is an important safety strategy that can also help to prevent bear encounter. By sticking close to others, you will appear larger to bears and they will be more likely to sense you and leave the area before you even know they are there. Having more than one person looking out for signs of bears will also give you an added advantage that can allow you to change your route if it becomes necessary.
Make Your Presence Known
Bears tend to be shy creatures that prefer not to fight. Yet, a bear that is surprised or protecting their young may become defensive. For this reason, it is important to make noise as you travel through the forest. Singing camp songs, clapping and generally just having a good time is all it takes to give bears the signal that you are approaching so they can make their escape.
Avoid Attracting Bears
Most human encounters with bears occur because the bear was attracted to a scent that indicated the possibility of food. Make sure to keep campsite clear of trash that could make it look and smell to a bear like there is an easy meal nearby. Store food and other scented items such as toothpaste in bear-proof, airtight containers or leave them behind before you hit the trail.
Defuse an Encounter
If you do sight a bear, it is important to keep your distance since they are likely just foraging for berries and other forest treats. If they see you, then make noise and slowly back away so that they do not view you as a threat. Remember that bears rarely attack. Staying calm will help you avoid a confrontation.
Spending time in the forest means that you may be sharing space with bears. Yet, the majority of bears are deterred by human scents and stay away from populated trails and campsites. Sticking to a defined trail and traveling with others who are experienced in living with wildlife is great advice to help ensure your safety when entering bear territory.