The more often you go out in the wilderness the more likely you will encounter a bear.
All the other animals in the wild, not worry so much about. But a bear, yes, there is reason to be concerned.
Before you meet the bear, you better have been prepared. That is key. You have to have several options in mind before meeting up.
There are some do’s and don’t’s that you want to keep in mind.
IT’S ALL ABOUT PREVENTION.
AL suggests some best practices to avoid making dumb human mistakes that draw animals into our camps.
Plan your day to get to camp before dusk. “Most human/animal conflicts happen during the day, but can happen at night. Most happen when a human walks upon an animal while it’s feeding, sleeping or has young. It goes into defense mode and bad things happen. At night, animals are not out looking to attack something, most of all, a human.”
Don’t set up camp right next to a water source. (This is a Leave No Trace principle as well.) “If it’s easy for you to get water, it’s easy for animals also and they might come at night to get a drink.”
Don’t cook and eat your meals in camps or in your tent. “The smell can last a very long time” and sometimes we might spill food. This is bad! In addition, “If you build a fire, NEVER throw food or its containers in the fire.”
“Never store food or anything [with a scent] anywhere close to camp.” You should put food in a bear canister or bear hang and have it at least 200 feet away from camp.
Carry bear spray and a light source with you at all times. There’s a small chance you might encounter an animal when you walk away from camp to use the bathroom.
IF THEY DO ROAM INTO YOUR CAMP, WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
Don’t assume the animal wants to attack you. It may just be walking through your camp.
“NEVER run. Get your spray ready and turn on the flashlight. Just seeing the animal will take away some of [your] fear.” Al says it’s probably not going to be the killer griz your mind might make up. It’s likely a porcupine, raccoon or another little critter.
Talk to the animal in a low voice. “Don’t yell. Hopefully hearing your voice will cause it to turn away and leave.”
Keep the flashlight on it, and move it in small arcs.
“Don’t use the bear spray unless it attacks you. Using the spray to scare it away is just a waste of spray.”
“WE DON’T KNOW WHY BEARS ATTACK.” BUT HERE’S WHAT TO DO IN CASE THEY DO
If a bear charges towards you, spray a one-second burst using a sweeping motion (left to right or right to left).
Spray it where the bear will be, on its path towards you (versus aiming for the bear). Bears are really fast and you want to have a cloud of bear spray in it’s path.
Be ready to spray again, holding your can with two hands. Stand and wait to see what it does.
Spray again if the bear keeps coming.
If the bear halts, take a couple steps back, slowly.
If the bear actually attacks you, there are different responses to different bears (relevant to the lower 48 states. Alaska is a whole other playing field.)
GRIZZLIES: Play dead. You’ll get mauled; it will be painful, but play dead. Stay in fetal position. Protect your neck.
BLACK: Fight back with everything you have.