Safety Tips for Bear Encounters

Safety Tips for Bear Encounters: Some time ago after the death of a Rutgers University student in New Jersey, we published this blog to help hikers and solo travelers with some tips for surviving such a rare bear encounter.  In that case, the five hikers who were unaware of how to act when meeting up unexpectedly with a bear decided to run. The bear, due to what was believed to be a shortage of food, such as acorns and berries, attacked one of the hikers.  Sadly, this victim was not able to survive the 300 pound bear’s attack.

The majority of those who enjoy outdoor recreation never have a bear encounter, but it is still important to know what to do if such an unlikely event occurs. For more information about the seven tips listed below please visit SABRE’s website .

Steps to Safety:

Safety Tips for Bear Encounters:

Tip One:

Avoid Encounter: Wrap up all food, be aware of areas with berries, and keep your eyes peeled

Safety Tips for Bear Encounters:

Tip Two:

If Tip One fails, identify yourself: Speak calmly and quietly so the bear distinguishes you from human vs. prey

Tip Three:

Look as large a possible (i.e. move to higher ground.

Tip Four:

Stay in groups

Safety Tips for Bear Encounters:

What not to do:

Tip Five:

Do not drop your pack, this can be used as protection

Tip Six:

Be especially cautious if you see a female with cubs and leave the area slowly but immediately

Tip Seven:

Do not think feeding the bear will help, it will only encourage an attack

Safety Tips for Bear Encounters:

Know how to identify them:

To distinguish between a brown and black bear and how to react during an encounter see this diagram:

  • Brown/Grizzly Bears: If you are attacked by a brown/grizzly bear, leave your pack on and PLAY DEAD. Lay flat on your stomach with your hands clasped behind your neck. Spread your legs to make it harder for the bear to turn you over. Remain still until the bear leaves the area. Fighting back usually increases the intensity of such attacks. However, if the attack persists, fight back vigorously. Use whatever you have at hand to hit the bear in the face.
  • Black Bears: If you are attacked by a black bear try to escape to a secure place such as a car or building. If escape is not possible, try to fight back using any object available. Concentrate your kicks and blows on the bear’s face and muzzle.

Most bear attacks occur when hikers are unaware of their surroundings or how to properly react.  Use this guide to safely enjoy nature and all of the wonderful things it has to offer!

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