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Black Bear Safety

Bears have lived in the United States for literally hundreds of years,.
In the Northern states  Grizzly are common while in the remainder of the United states there are black bears which are, while more docile and more common, can also be a threat.

Black bears are quite prolific in most of the western United states and very abundant in the North eastern United States and in much of Canada. Although their presence in the midwest is low, there are incidence of them traveling through and also of them returning to areas where they have not been in decades.. This is both good news, and bad news.
Ontario is home to about 100,000 bears, with at least as many in Quebec.
The US Fish and Wildlife service says that bears are currently seeing a comeback in many areas.

A large black bear
A large black bear

“Most populations east of the Mississippi River are seeing a marked, steady increase in population: bears are moving back into places where they typically have been absent for over a century as suitable habitat has returned. In eastern states with heavily wooded areas, populations are growing rapidly; in North Carolina there were 11,000 bears at last count in 2004, Pennsylvania estimates 15,000 bears currently.”
Chances are that at some point in your hiking, riding or climbing you are going to come into contact with a bear.

Bears are, above and beyond all else that they are, wild animals.
While they may seem cuddly, or cute, or even appear to be friendly, they are very strong, very poweful and  there is always the potential for danger when you come into contact with them in any way.
Taking the right precautions can help you to avoid unnecessary confrontations and dealings with them.

Use common sense:

Bears will ordinarily avoid people, yet sometimes a stray cub will wander into the area where you are.
A female bear will be provoked more than quickly if you are between she and her cubs or if she feels they are threatened.
If you are in the vicinity of a cub bear, don’t approach it, and makes certain that you stay clear of the animal. Make a great deal of noise to attempt to frighten him or her away from you.

When you hike or are in bear country. MAKE NOISE and a lot of it.
While berry picking at one point, I drew back the prickers to hold them so we could pick more and came face to face with a black bear, thankfully a small one but he wasn’t happy and I wasn’t either.
Bears, don’t like surprises any more than you do.
**Make sure they know you’re in the area. Sing, chant, wear bells, talk.
**In bear area, don’t hike alone, or if you must, wear bear bells and carry bear spray.
** Your dog is going to disturb a bear if you are walking in heavy brush and he is roaming free. If you talk your dog camping with you, don’t let him run unleashed .
** Know the signs ofa bear. What their tracks look like, droppings and digs. Pay attention to what you see.

When you are camping in bear territory:

 FOOD Attracts Bears.
Common sense says, that food is a reward to them and they will learn  to raid your camp if you make the right mistakes.
Our party was awakened one night to a bear raid while sleeping inside a tent with the kids in our back yard, in rural Pennsylvania.
The lights we’d strung over our tent were dragged several hundred yards into the forests adjacent to our house and the fire area was tossed around in search of food.
OUr tent was just a few hundred feet from our well lighted house, and the hour wasn’t late, about eleven oclock PM.
The mistakes we made were many. We’d all slept in the clothing we had cooked in, we all left the foil we’d cooked in over our open campfire near us and the tent was pitched a scant twenty feet from where we cooked.
We made the mistake of thinking because we were near the house, the same common sense rules didn’t apply.. THey do..
OUr house was adjacent to a large forested area where bears were prevalent. We camped on the edge of the woods to give the children a feel for what it was like to rough camp.
we made stupid mistakes and could have caused our own injury..

Take basic precautions EVEN if you are sleeping in your backyard if you’re in bear prolific areas.

* Store food in your car trunk or your house if you’re doing the backyard camping thing.
Otherwise, place food in a bag, backpack, or pannier and hang from a tree branch at least ten feet above the ground and four feet from the tree trunk. Do not store food in tents.
* Garbage: Pack out all garbage. Never bury it.
* No greasy food: Avoid cooking smelly or greasy foods. Sleep some distance uphill from your cooking area and food storage site. Keep sleeping bags and personal gear clean and free of food odor. Don’t sleep in the same clothes you wore while cooking.
* Hunters: Where hunting is permitted, keep game meat out of reach of bears.
* Fishy Stuff: Dispose of fish entrails by puncturing the air bladder and dropping in deep water where it will decompose naturally.
* Horses: Horse pellets should be stored the same as food.

If You Encounter a Bear

* Stay calm: It will probably leave you alone. Do not make abrupt moves or noises that would startle the bear.
* Give the bear plenty of room: Slowly detour, keeping upwind so the bear will not get your scent.
Playing dead for a black bear attack generally does not work.

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3 Comments

  1. BrianBrian
    January 14, 2009

    I have to disagree with your advice on being quiet it you happen upon a bear. My wife and i came across a black bear and it rushed forward as if to attack until I stepped forward, made myself look as large as possible and began shouting and waving my arms at it. The bear came up short and wasn’t nearly as interested in us once I made the big fuss. If you check out almost any other site they will tell you to do exactly as I did; make yourself seem large and make lots of noise if a bear makes a run at you. It definitely worked for us.

  2. Lady MacbethLady Macbeth
    January 16, 2009

    I agree with what you say up to a point. Making a lot of noise and making yourself look as big as you can is a good idea if they are coming at you, but not if they aren’t.

    Being from Pennsylvania, and living in the middle of a national forest we saw a lot of black bear. What you did is the only way to handle it if they actively see you and come at you,but if they don’t see you first, backing away quite often works.

    We came across a sow and two cubs while out picking berries and just walked away slowly, backing up and got the heck out.
    I think if we’d rushed out looking big and making noise so that she saw us and thought we were a threat, we’d have been lunch.

  3. RodRod
    February 5, 2009

    Have you seen this thing I can’t figure it out?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C74oHF-RCJk

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