Stay safe in bear country
Do you camp, hike or live where bears hang out? If you do, it’s a good idea to know as much as you can to stay safe. I go hike and run right ithrough the bear's living room as well as their bathroom, so I did my research to be prepared.
Not surprisingly, bears aren’t a major cause of injury in national parks. Vehicle accidents and drowning are usually what will take you out. Tripping and falling comes next. Animal attacks are right at the bottom of the list. Bees are 25 times more likely to kill you than bears.
Even so, it pays to know exactly what you’re up against. Here are some common myths about bears that shouldd be debunked.
Myth #1 — If a bear stands on its rear legs like a human, it's about to charge you
This is usually not true. Bears rear up to see more clearly and find out what's ahead. That doesn't mean it won't terrify you!
By raising their head up a few feet, bears can get more information from smell, sight and sound than when they can only see from all fours. Based on their raised look at you, maybe they will conclude you are too much work to bother with.
If a bear rears up on its back legs, don’t start running whatever you do! It might decide that it needs to run after you, where before it wasn't sure what you were. But critters that run away are most likely prey.
Do your best to stay calm instead.
Wave your arms and talk to the bear in a clear voice as you slowly move away to the side. Sideways movement is non threatening to bears, so that would be your best bet if possible. If that route isn't possible, back away. But don't panic and trip! Slow and sure.
Myth #2 — Bears won't climb trees
Hiding in a tree is not your best choice. A lot of trees are really hard to climb for us humans, in any case, especially if there are no branches near the bottom. But bears can climb trees like that super easy! Be prepared to have him coming right up after you like a cat after a mouse.
Once a bear grows so big that the tree can’t hold them up anymore, they might just knock the tree down or shake it until you fall out.
I can't imagine the stress of being up a tree while a bear stands around waiting for you to come down anyway.
Myth #3— My Gun is better than stupid Pepper Spray
Read the reports, statistics and stories. You'll find that your chance of injury doubles if you shoot at a bear with bullets instead of using pepper spray. It's well documented.
Your gun will probably get you killed, while the "wimp" with bear pepper spray will live.
This is just common sense. Imagine you are being charged by a bear, and you shoot him right in the face with a good shot of pepper spray. It gets in his eyes and nose, which is just like dipping his face in a bowl of industrial strength wing sauce. Now he can't smell, see or breathe.
What do you think he will do? Hang around trying to kill you? No, he will head for the hills.
Now imagine a wounded, angry bear that can still see and smell the idiot who shot him. I wouldn't want that to be me.
Myth #4 — Bears can’t run downhill very good
This is just another one of those silly ideas that isn't true. They can run over 30 miles per hour in every direction, uphill, downhill and sideways.
You'll need more than luck outrun a bear. You'll need a motorized vehicle.
If you have pepper spray, stand your ground and do your best. If the bear isn’t charging then slowly back away and leave the area without running. It will probably let you leave, unless it's a mama who thinks you're threatening the cubs.
Myth # 5— If you are attacked by a bear, play dead
I plan on shooting that attacking bear in the face with pepper spray. Lying on the ground playing dead isn’t something I'm willing to risk. Ever.
Playing dead might work if a mother grizzly bear is defending her cubs. The rest of the situations make it sound like a good way to commit suicide.
If a bear is seriously after you, you need to fight like a cornered badger! Punch, kick, yell, head butt, whatever you have in you! This is life or death. Are you just going to lie there while it makes you lunch, or are you going down fighting? Do what you can now before you're lunch.
Human Food attracts bears so use your brain
Bears love the smell human food and will travel miles to go get takeout from your supply. Improperly storing food or disposing of garbage is the easiest way to have bear problems.
Learn good cooking and storage habits for when you’re camping. Use the provided bear proof garbage receptacles when you can. Don’t get them used to human food or garbage. Someone could seriously injured or killed because of your carelessness. That includes the bear, who will be disposed of if it becomes dangerous.
Don’t feed bears!
Bears start hanging around like a smelly deadbeat uncle who eats all your food. Except instead of sleeping on your couch, drinking all your beer or asking to borrow your car, they might just reach out and try to take any remaining food you have. You don’t want a grumpy bear going after your groceries, do you?