Bear Etiquette

  • Make your presence known; avoid surprises. Sing, talk, wear a bell. Avoid thick brush.
  • Give bears plenty of room. Watch and photograph from a safe distance.
  • Be on the watch for bear kills. A bear will defend its food. Detour areas where you see or smell dead animals or fish.
  • Cook away from your tent. Keep a clean camp. Store your food in airtight containers away from the tent site.

Bear Behavior

  • A bear standing on its hind legs usually only wants a better view and more information.
  • On four legs, a bear may show agitation by swaying its head from side to side, making huffing noises, and clacking its teeth.
  • Flattened ears and raised hairs on the back of the neck can be an indication of aggressive intent.
  • If a bear runs with a stiff, bouncing gait, it may be false charging.
  • Direct eye contact is often interpreted by a bear as a challenge or a threat.

Close Encounters

  • If you do encounter a bear at close distance, remain calm. Remember, bear attacks are rare.
  • Identify Yourself. Talk to the bear in a normal voice.
  • Wave your arms to help the bear recognize you as a human being.
  • The bear may come closer or stand to get a better look or smell.
  • Back away slowly in a diagonal direction, but if the bear follows, stop and hold your ground.
  • Resist the urge to run. You cannot outrun a bear. Like dogs, a bear will instinctively chase a fleeing animal.
  • Bears often make bluff charges within 10 feet.
  • Continue to wave your arms and talk to the bear.
  • If the bear gets too close, raise your voice and be more aggressive.
  • Bang pots and pans.
  • Never imitate bear sounds or make squealing noises.
  • If a bear actually makes contact, fall to the ground and play dead.
  • Lie flat on your stomach or curl up in a ball with your hands behind your neck.
  • Remain motionless as long as possible.
  • In rare instances, particularly with black bears, a bear may perceive a person as food.
  • If the bear continues to bite long after you have assumed a defensive posture, fight back vigorously.

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