Bear Safety 101

Black, brown and grizzly bears are an exaggerated threat. Check with local authorities if the area you are entering even has a bear population. They will know and can give you further details on the kinds of bears that live in the area and how to avoid contact with them. It is true: bear attacks do happen but they are rare and mostly easy to avoid. In general, bears generally only attack:

  • When startled
  • When they think you are an obstacle to a food source
  • When they see you as prey


Avoiding Bear Attractants

If you know that bears could be around, simply tie a metal cup and a spoon to your backpack. The metal clink that will be heard as you walk will scare away any bear in the neighborhood. Avoid sneaking up on bears. Bears and other mammals are attracted to the smell of food. If you or your camp site smells like food, it could attract bears that might consider you as an obstacle to their food and attack. Try to keep yourself, your clothes, and your tent from smelling like food. If necessary, change clothes after cooking.

Keep your sleeping area at least 100 feet from your cooking area. Make sure to dispose of any cooking remains in a way that also takes away the smell. Use special canisters that are mouse-, rat-, marmot-, and bear proof. These canisters restrain odors from attracting mammals and even protect against break-in attempts by mammals. Store your food supplies by hanging a food sack on a tree branch at least 10 feet above the ground. Choose a tree branch that can carry the weight of your food bag but will not support a bear.


What To Do When Confronted With a Bear

  • Use a Bear pepper spray. These sprays work well in deterring a bear if you spray it at the bear.

  • Use your gun if you are already carrying one. Do not take a gun just for deterring bears. The chances of you shooting yourself or others by accident is larger than the chance of you encountering a bear and having the time to shoot at it. Do not shoot the bear itself unless you really have no other choice. Firing a shot in the air will deter a bear.

  • Stand your ground and keep your eye on the Bear.

  • Do not run but slowly move away, try to climb a tree, or move into your tent. Running will trigger the bear's predatory instincts.

  • Do not lie down and play dead until the Bear actually attacks you. If it knocks you over, roll face down and clasp the back of your neck. Stay put and do not move until the bear moves away.

  • If the bear does not stop its attack after playing dead, fight like crazy using whatever is at your disposal.


These are some basic things you need to know about Bears and Bear Attacks. Be very careful if you are hiking on a place with bears.

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