If You Were a Bear

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Avoid smelly food like bacon and smoked fish. Keep food smells off your clothing. Burn garbage completely in a hot fire and pack out the remains.


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Food and garbage are equally attractive to a bear so treat them with equal care. Burying garbage is a waste of time. Bears have keen noses and are great diggers. If a bear approaches while you are fishing, stop fishing. If you have a fish on your line, don't let it splash.

If that's not possible, cut your line. If a bear learns it can obtain fish just by approaching fishermen, it will return for more. If you see a bear, avoid it if you can. Give the bear every opportunity to avoid you. If you do encounter a bear at close distance, remain calm.

Bear Responsible - Bears Belong!

Attacks are rare. Chances are, you are not in danger. Remember the following: Identify Yourself. Let the bear know you are human. Talk to the bear in a normal voice. Wave your arms. Help the bear recognize you. If a bear cannot tell what you are, it may come closer or stand on its hind legs to get a better look or smell.

A standing bear is usually curious, not threatening.

You may try to back away slowly diagonally, but if the bear follows, stop and hold your ground. Don't Run. You can't outrun a bear. They have been clocked at speeds up to 35 mph, and like dogs, they will chase fleeing animals. Bears often make bluff charges, sometimes to within 10 feet of their adversary, without making contact.

Continue waving your arms and talking to the bear. If the bear gets too close, raise your voice and be more aggressive.

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Bang pots and pans. Use noisemakers. Never imitate bear sounds or make a high-pitched squeal. If Attacked. If a bear actually makes contact, you have two choices: play dead or fight back. The best choice depends on whether the bear is reacting defensively or is seeking food.

How to survive a bear encounter (and what to do if it all goes wrong)

Play dead if you are attacked by a grizzly bear you have surprised, encountered on a carcass, or any female bear that seems to be protecting cubs. Lie flat on your stomach, or curl up in a ball with your hands behind your neck. This gives you time to see bears at a distance. Plan what you would do if a bear came near while you were cooking dinner.

It helps to keep track of wind direction as bears are more likely to approach from downwind. Many experienced outdoors people eat early so that they'll still be awake if a bear comes to investigate dinner smells. Some backpackers even stop and cook before they reach their camp site so that there are no food odors near where they sleep. Don't cook smelly foods. Bacon can bring in bears from a long way — especially if they've had it before. Bears have an incredible sense of smell. Not only do bears react to scents they come upon accidentally; they purposefully use their noses to "search" for food.

Don't sleep where you eat and cook. Moving off yards or more is helpful. Keep snacks, toothpaste, cosmetics, anything with interesting smells and any clothing that has been soiled by food or game butchering out of your tents and with your food supply.

Don't fish around bears. Do not fish when bears are close enough to notice a fish splashing on your line. This may mean a distance of several hundred yards or more. If bears are fishing where you want to fish, make sure you are a safe distance away and do some bear watching. Don't let bears get your fish.

Build-a-Bear "Pay-Your-Age Day" - Details, Costs, and Date

If you make a mistake and a bear runs after the salmon you have hooked — cut it loose. Bears are quick to associate fishermen with easy fish meals. If you clean fish next to a salmon stream, only discard fish guts into fast-moving water, and place butchered fish in plastic bags to contain. Keep your catch with you. Do not leave it unattended on the stream bank.

Field dressing of game can attract bears. If you harvest an animal, it's best to have two people do the field dressing, with one of them keeping a sharp lookout out for bears. Pack, do not drag, all salvaged meat and animal parts to the area where you will hang or store your meat. Move edible meat and salvaged portions a good distance from the gut pile, to an area with good visibility. Cache meat out of reach of bears if possible, or at least away from your camp.

Portable electric fences are an inexpensive way of protecting your meat and deterring bears. Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Hide Section Navigation. A bear destroyed as the direct result of improper garbage storage and disposal. Electric chicken fence. Keep a clean camp and don't leave unattended food out where bears might get into it. Photo by Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.