Camping and hiking is an enjoyable past time for many but if you are headed into bear country, than certain precautions need to be taken to protect you and your family from possible harm.
Bears for the most part will go out of their way to avoid any contact with people,and in the vast majority
of reported bear encounters tragedy happened because they were suddenly surprised. In other cases the bear was defending it’s cubs or guarding a recent kill.
Some tips you can use to minimize risk is to try and stay in a group when hiking sing, clap hands and make noise. This will alert your presence to the bear who typically will avoid you. Always be on the look out obvious signs of a bear in your general area. Some common signs of recent bear activity are over turned stones, rocks, fresh diggings, tracks and bear scat.
One of the best defensive items in the event of a bear encounter you can carry is bear spray. It has been
proven time and again that bear spray saves lives. Studies shown by the U.S. fish and wildlife services reveal that people who have encountered an aggressive bear and used bear spray to defend themselves avoided injury in 90% of all such encounters. In comparison those who used firearms or other weapons suffered injury in 50% of all cases.
The proper use of bear pepper spray in such encounters is proven to be more effective to stop or discourage a charging bear. When carrying bear spray be sure to have it easily accessible, carried either in a holster worn on your belt or chest, or in your backpacks water bottle holder
In the event that you do encounter an aggressive bear, never run. Reach slowly and calmly for your spray avoiding sudden moves and begin to slowly back away from the bear.
If the bear becomes aggressive fire a short burst of your spray as a warning shot in it’s direction. If that does not deter the bear and it begins to charge, Wait until it is about 35-40 feet away than empty the entire can of spray creating a dense cloud that bear will run into.
A bear’s sense of smell is extremely sensitive and for this reason bear spray should never be used as a deterrent by spraying it on camping gear or backpacks. Used in that manner the pepper spray will actually do the opposite of what you intended and attract bears.
Having bear spray alone won’t make you safe but knowing how to properly use it in the event of a dangerous situation can and will save lives.