Some Tips on How to Be Smart in the Case of a Bear Encounter

Doug Williams
A rough and tumble with a grizzly by H. Bullock Webster, watercolor
A rough and tumble with a grizzly by H. Bullock Webster, watercolor

Certainly for us and for many people who enjoy being outside and enjoy being immersed in the wilderness, there is also a bit of a fear of an encounter with a bear lurking in the back of their mind.

This is not something that is a concern everywhere but often times when people go hiking or take the time to just enjoy the wilderness and remove themselves from everyday society there are more opportunities for bears to be around than there would be under normal situations and locations that are not as remote.

Sow with two cubs in the Kananaskis. Photo credit
Sow with two cubs in the Kananaskis. Photo credit

In most scenarios, bears actually have no interest in seeing human beings, just as human beings have no interest in encountering a bear. That does not mean that the occurrences do not come about; it just means that there are things that can be done to lessen the chances that there will be an encounter and, similarly, there are also things that can be done to lessen any harm that could come out of any potential encounter.

There are certain things that can be done to avoid any potential bear encounter to being with. They are obviously not fool proof, but they can certainly enhance the chances of not having a bear sighting while you are in the wilderness. For one thing, if there is a bear sighting it is fairly imperative that you or any person that you are with does not do anything to interact with the bear.

This means no feeding the bear, as this could result in the bear attacking the human who attempts interaction or even in the bear being hurt somehow. To avoid a bear coming out of nowhere and stumbling upon your camp ground or where you are hiking, it is a good idea to make a good amount of noise so that the bear is aware that there are human beings around.

As previously mentioned, the bear would most likely want to avoid human contact just as much as the human beings want to avoid an encounter with the bear.

It is also important to just generally be aware of what is going on around you. On your hike keep an open eye for any signs of a bear or bear tracks so that you can know if it is more likely than not that a bear is around or was recently in the same area as you.

That being said, if you do see tracks or even a bear in the distance or a dead animal, this is definitely not an area that you should stick around in – you should definitely find a new location to set up camp.

Top of the food chain. Photo credit
Top of the food chain. Photo credit

Traveling alone is also something that is not necessarily recommended, as groups can not only create more noise but also offer more safety and protection than just a solo hiker on his own who may come into contact with a bear. A lone person would not be as intimidating to a bear as would a big group.

If you have brought an animal with you such as a dog, then you should also be sure to not let your pet just roam around the wilderness aimlessly. When you are out in the wilderness, your pet should really be on a leash to protect both the pet and your whole party.

Bear spray is certainly something that can come in handy, but it is also important that a person be aware of how to properly use it in case it becomes necessary.

In addition, it is very helpful to be aware of certain things that are attractive to bears such as any garbage, food, bird feeders, or fruit and berry bushes – these are all things that you should not be close to or have on you.

When there is a threat of bears, it is imperative that you be sure to keep your campsite clean.

Drum or barrel trap, used to safely relocate bears, adjacent to a building in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, United States. Photo credit
Drum or barrel trap, used to safely relocate bears, adjacent to a building in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, United States. Photo credit

You should always be sure to heed any trail closures that may be posted so that you can be sure to not have any encounters or any other dangerous scenarios. Those signs are placed there for a reason, and that reason is to protect the safety of hikers on the trail.

Now that you are aware of what could be done to avoid a potential encounter with a bear, there are some tips that would be useful in case you do have an encounter with a bear so that you can lessen the severity and danger of the situation, Wildsmart reported.

Most encounters that occur between a bear and a human being end without either of them being injured. If the bear has not noticed that you are there, then you should remove yourself from the area and from any range where the bar would become aware of your existence. If the bear is aware of your existence then it is important that you do not freak out, do not yell, and do not run.

It is imperative in this situation that you remain calm and slowly back away so as to not frighten or shock the bear into getting into a defensive mode.

Sometimes if the bear comes closer to you and keeps making the distance between you smaller this signals an attack to come and you should be sure to make yourself large and stand your ground and speak quite firmly so that the bear feels a sense of feeling intimidation.

The thought of seeing a bear while in the wilderness is certainly something that can be very scary but it is not something that you should let ruin your time with nature.

There are preventative measures that you can take as well as measures that alleviate the danger in the case of an encounter with a bear.


fmssolution is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival