Surviving a Bear Encounter

(based on an article by CBC News Canada, 2005)

One of the first things we all need to know and remember about bears is that they are wild, they are unpredictable and that there is no absolutely certain way of surviving an attack by a bear, whether that attack is from a black bear or a grizzly, so the best bet is to prevent one.

When you are walking in areas that you can’t see more than ten or fifteen feet ahead of you talk during the walk.. If you’re in a party talk among yourselves more loudly than normal.

Some people wear bear bells so that the noise precedes them. However you accomplish it, make sure that anything ahead of you knows that you’re coming through.

Surviving a Bear Encounter

If you see a bear and its at a distance, and you believe you can get away without the bears noticing you, do that, Quickly and Quietly back away. Shouting at a bear that doesn’t know you’re there is aggression and may provoke the attack you are trying to prevent.

Alert the bear to the fact that you are there, and do what you can to prove you’re human. Most bears have encountered us, know what we are and look like. Speak to the bear, wave your arms around slowly and back away.

If you’re within 50 feet of the bear when you encounter it, forget about identifying yourself as a human being. It knows. Just back away slowly and don’t provoke the animal.

If a bear begins to approach you or charge you, stand your ground. Bears often will bluff a charge, stopping abruptly or veering off.

CBC says “If the bear is going to attack you, the best protection is a gun. If the threat is real, it’s best to shoot to kill. Don’t go for the head, go for the heart. If the bear is broadside, aim for the shoulder. If the bear’s coming straight at you with its head low to the ground, aim for the back of the neck between the shoulders. Keep firing until the bear’s dead because a wounded bear is very dangerous.

If you don’t have a gun, there are two things to do, depending on the bear.

If it’s a grizzly, play dead.

Recommended positions for playing dead:

* Lie on your side, curled into a ball, legs drawn tightly to your chest, hands clasped behind your neck.
* Lie flat on the ground, face down, hands clasped behind your neck.
* Remain in these positions even if the bear drags you.

Do not play dead if it’s a black bear, or a grizzly that regards you as prey. It that case, the best thing to do is fight back.

Recommended ways to fight back with a black bear or a grizzly that regards you as prey:

* Act aggressively.
* Defend yourself with whatever is available whether that’s a baseball bat, rake, tent pole, axe, anything.
* Try to appear dominant.
* Shout, jump up and down, wave your arms, hold up your jacket or backpack to make yourself look bigger.”

Using these methods are your best bet for surviving a violent encounter with a bear.
The best bet however is still to take precautions to prevent the encounter to begin with.

Wear the bear bells, attached to your boots.
Talk loudly when you can’t see any real distance ahead of you.
Carry bear spray.

Know that bears standing on their hind legs swinging their heads from side to side are trying to pick up scents to decide who and what you are. Bears do not charge on their hind legs.

A hunting bear shows no fear and does not bother with displays. It approaches its prey at a fast walk, or follows or circles the prey.

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