In some cases, such as hiking in Yosemite, you may need to use a hard, bear-proof canister to store all foods and scented items. “Rigid bear-proof canisters have proven to be very effective in preventing bears from obtaining food from backpackers,” notes Yellowstone Bear Management biologist, Kerry Gunther.
In addition to not attracting bears with food and scented items, you can also deter making sure they know you’re around. In most cases the bears aren’t too happy to meet you either, so if you make noise the bears will hear you and move away long before you even notice them.
“The most common misconception about bears is that when they attack, their intent is to kill and eat you,” says Gunther. “Predator attacks are actually extremely rare. Most bear encounters end without contact or injury. When bears attack, it is usually in a surprise encounter, and the bear reacts defensively to protect itself from a perceived threat to itself, its cubs, or its food.
Thompson recommends making noise during your ride, especially in thick brush or blind corners where you have less visibility. Singing, talking, clapping and shouting “HEY BEAR” are all acceptable ways to let any potential bear know you’re around. Some other options include bear bells or air horns. Although Ethan Shaw, an independent naturalist, researcher and writer with Outdoor Generations note: “As far as I know, research suggests that these tinkling tools do little to warn bears – their sound doesn’t travel as far, especially in strong breezes or running water – and, to be honest, I think they are quite annoying to encounter on a trail.” Anyway, to avoid any surprise encounters, it is always recommended to shout, talk and applaud.
Hiking in a group goes hand in hand with making noise, because if you’re in a group chatting and having a good time, you’re probably making noise. However, being in a band isn’t just about making noise. In an information Facebook video, says Gunther, “Groups of three or more are almost never harmed by bears.” Larger groups will be less of a target for bears and, as they say, there is strength in numbers.
Carry Bear Spray
Although most of these tips have been preventative measures, if an encounter does occur, you want to have bear spray on hand. and know how to use it. This is especially the case for brown bears or grizzly bears, as the species tend to be more aggressive than black bears (although having it with you on a hike somewhere with black bears certainly won’t do). of badness !).
“Bear spray is over 90% effective in stopping aggressive behavior in bears,” says Gunther. If a bear is charging at you or you feel too close to a bear to be comfortable, you want this bear spray directly accessible to use at a moment’s notice. You don’t need to aim, just spray a cloud in front of you between you and the bear, and the capsaicin in the bear spray will do its job. At the same time, some national parks don’t allow visitors to carry or use pepper spray (including Yosemite) because it’s not often necessary for black bears, so be sure to check the specific regulations of the region you will be visiting.
For additional tips and information on staying safe with bears, the National Park ServiceState fish and wildlife programsand non-profit organizations like The Be Bear Aware campaign all provide excellent educational resources.
The Best Bear Safety Gear
Hiking, camping, or outdoor recreation can be a great way to take care of yourself outdoors, get some exercise, or get some peace of mind, but that comes with large animals and potentially dangerous. If you want to take all the necessary precautions, the bear safety gear below may come in handy on your next trip.