Bear Awareness

Brown bearEva Jagt

Bears. Huge, hairy bundles of who knows what will happen. Yes, they are magnificent and absolutely spectacular to admire—from a distance. Take pictures, enjoy their existence, but leave them be. They are territorial, they are curious, and we are invading their space.

It appears to be that a good majority of the population as an entirety forgets that much like every other wild animal, bears were here first. There may be towns and cities all over the map, but these majestic beasts were here first. The very first villages were built on the bears’ land. They destroyed areas that held shelter, food and water. And as our districts, towns, cities, and metropolises grow; their homes shrink, their food sources deplete.

Bears do not wander into an area to cause problems and create worry. They are scavenging. They are looking for food. It is a well-known fact that these food sources are not what they

once were. Fish populations are shrinking, mostly due to overfishing. Berry bushes are disappearing, due to over harvesting, logging, off-road vehicles and pollution. These creatures are struggling to survive on their own and resort to digging through rotten garbage to make it through. There are more bear sightings in towns, more bear attacks happening.

Avoiding bear attacks is simpler than one thinks. Go for walks with someone. Talk loudly. Have bear bangers, bear spray or bear bells. Go for a walk with a dog. On the off chance that a bear encounter happens, make yourself big. Grab sticks and wave them about. Do not make direct eye contact and back away slowly. DO NOT RUN – you cannot out run any bear. Fire off a bear banger. Do not coax the bear closer and do not offer it food. Keep in mind, if you are hiking in the bushes, you are increasing the risk of encountering a bear.

In the case that you suspect that you are being stalked by either a black bear or a grizzly bear, get out of the area. Black bears are less likely to attack you, and if there is a surprise attack, use your bear spray and fight back – aim for the face and nose. Black bears are only likely to attack if they’re protecting their food or cubs. Grizzlies on the other hand, are more aggressive, but will bluff charge you to warn you that you’re in its territory.

If you ever encounter a grizzly surprise attack, drop to the fetal position and wrap your hands around the back of your neck. This protects your vital organs. The bear will sniff, and will most likely paw at you, but you will survive. This shows the grizzly that you are not a threat and it will wander off.

Statistics are ultimately boring and dull – it is impossible to say how many attacks are caused by people egging a bear on, just like it’s impossible to determine how many attacks are spontaneous. A person is more likely to die in a vehicle than you are to die by a bears’ paws. We all live in bear territory. We can do our best to avoid bear encounters, but the probability of a bear showing up is very high.

For all those going out camping this year, please take precautions against inviting a bear into your campground. Lock your food inside your vehicles, clean up your messes, make sure that there isn’t anything left out overnight that would have the potential to make a bear want to get into your tent. Respect your surroundings, respect the bears.