We had a user submitted question this week concerning bears. Pam in Texas wanted to know what to do and prepare for when going hiking to avoid running into a bear.
Good question, as none of us want to become bear dinner. And there are so many myths floating around about bears, we wanted to know what advice was given by the people who knew best. After all, we want our human friends to stay safe out there, but we want our animal friends to stay safe as well.
Like all animals, bears play an important part in the ecosystem. The bears, along with all of the other creatures and critters you find in the forest evolved to be there. That is their natural habitat, and they exist in balance there. Humans, however, did not evolve in that environment, so we are the outsiders, and quite honestly, we are usually the biggest threat. So, it’s important to keep in mind our place versus their place and keep the respect and appropriate fear of wildlife when we adventure out there in our forests and national parks.
We turn to the Center for Wildlife Information for our guide to stay safe in bear country. The goal of the Center for Wildlife is to help reduce the possible conflict between human and non-human animals in the wild, so that everyone stays healthy and safe.
Of course, the first piece of advice for anyone experiencing the wild natural outdoors is to simply stay away from the wildlife. Do not feed the wildlife. Do not touch the wildlife. And is goes without saying (well, for most of us anyway), do not put the wildlife in your car in order to protect it from the cold. Spoiler alert, it does not end well for the wild animal.
Bear attacks are most common when these conditions are present:
Not making enough noise. If you are suffieciently loud on your hike (sing, talk, make noise), the wildlife is more likely to stay away.
A state of surprise. That goes along with number one. If you’re sneaking up on an animal (maybe for that photo op), you’re more likely to scare it, and a scared animal is more likely to attack.
Taking it’s picnic basket. Okay, so, it’s doubtful Yogi bear is chilling in the woods, but wild animal food sources are. If you see a dead animal, or carcass, avoid it, because you don’t want to be in a fight with a bear for a dinner that you don’t even want!
Aggravating mama bear. If mama is with her cubs, stay back. Do not get close. Those mama bears are protective of their babies, and they will be especially aggressive if they feel something may approach their cubs.
Tips for Staying Safe
- Tell someone where you’re going and what time you plan to be back.
- Stay on the trails, and only hike during the day.
- Do not leave food or other supplies unattended.
- Do not leave pets or children unattended.
- Make plenty of noise.
- Use binoculars to get that view. (In other words, STAY BACK).
We can all enjoy the wilderness together, and safely. We just need to keep these things in mind, so that we do not startle any wild animals. If you have any other great tips for novice hikers, let us know in the comments! Have a safe hiking trip!