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Bears in the Backcountry

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Bears in the Backcountry

Know your bear species. Be aware and be smart. That said we wanted to put together a quick guide if you are going into bear country.


Encountering a bear in the backcountry can be a potentially dangerous situation. To stay bear safe, follow these tips:



  1. Know the bear species in the area: Before heading into the backcountry, familiarize yourself with the bear species in the area and their behavior. Black bears and grizzly bears, for example, behave differently and may require different approaches.
  2. Store food properly: Bears have a keen sense of smell and are attracted to food odors. Store all food, trash, and scented items, such as toothpaste and sunscreen, in bear-resistant containers or suspended from a tree at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet away from the trunk.
  3. Make noise: Make noise while hiking to alert bears to your presence. This can prevent surprising a bear and give it time to avoid you.
  4. Travel in groups: Traveling in groups of three or more people is generally considered safer than traveling alone. The noise and activity of a group is less likely to attract bears and can help deter a bear that is encountered.
  5. Carry bear spray: Bear spray is a type of pepper spray that can deter a bear in the event of an attack. Make sure to carry it in an easily accessible location, such as on a hip holster, and know how to use it properly.
  6. Know what to do in a bear encounter: If you encounter a bear, stand your ground and raise your arms to make yourself look larger. Speak in a firm, loud voice to let the bear know you are human. If the bear charges, use your bear spray. If a black bear attacks, fight back with everything you have, as playing dead is not effective. If a grizzly bear attacks, play dead by lying flat on your stomach with your legs spread apart and your hands clasped behind your neck.


By following these tips and being prepared for a bear encounter, you can increase your safety and reduce the risk of conflict with bears in the backcountry.


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