How to Handle a Bear Encounter

How to Handle a Bear Encounter
Encountering a bear on the trails is a frightening experience. But, bears generally avoid humans and usually only attack when hunting for food or when they feel threatened or cornered. Remain calm and exercise extreme caution when encountering a bear. Fight back only as a last resort and avoid hiking and backpacking alone.


Difficulty: Challenging

Step 1
Remain as calm, alert and clear-headed as possible when dealing with a bear encounter.
Step 2
Avoid any sudden movements and stand very still. Bears will generally avoid humans unless threatened, surprised or cornered. Running might encourage a bear to chase you.
Step 3
Slowly wave your arms and make cautious movements to alert the bear and potentially cause it to run away. Use this technique only if you are far away from the bear. If you're talking to someone in your group, use quiet and low tones.
Step 4
Make sure the bear is not cornered. If you're in a cave or rocky area, create an escape route for the bear to pass. Quietly walk away from the bear and leave the area as quickly as possible. Avoid any contact with cubs at all costs, as the mother bear will attack.
Step 5
Avoid making any eye contact with the bear, as it might cause it to feel challenged or threatened.
Step 6
Keep your backpack, jacket or hiking gear on to create extra padding if attacked.
Step 7
Play dead during an attack and protect your stomach, head, neck and chest. The bear may lose interest, no longer feel threatened and leave on its own.
Step 8
Remain in position until you are absolutely certain the bear has left the area, then wait another 20 to 30 minutes. Bears often watch their prey from a distance and will attack again at the sign of movement.
Step 9
Fight back against a bear attack only if you have no other options. Try striking it in the eyes or snout and back away.

Tips & Warnings

Look for bear tracks and droppings and steer clear.
Keep food out of your tent and store leftovers in bear-proof containers.
Don't sleep in the open or near cooking and eating areas.
Avoid berry patches, littered campsites and areas where bears are known to gather.

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