Before visiting the area:
1. Do your research about the species of bears living in the area.
2. Take time to read about them and learn their habits.
3. Think smart and have presence of mind when you come face to face with a bear.
Here are some additional tips to help you:
Travel in groups
Hiking in groups has proven more helpful than hiking alone in bear territory. There is security in larger groups as they appear more threatening. It’s recommended to travel in a group of four or more hikers and to stay together throughout the hike.
Stay on the trail
Never go off the trail when in bear country. Doing so will increase your chances of a dangerous encounter. Bears seem to know where hikers are and they will avoid you at all costs. Leaving the trail is looking for trouble.
Make some noise
Sounds, especially in low visibility areas, will alert the bears of your presence and will cause them to move away. The noise you make needs to be audible even from far off. Try to make sounds that don’t naturally occur in nature, like whistles, bear bells, or singing as this is helpful in alerting them that you’re in the area.
Keep in mind that you also need to respect other hikers who are using the trail. Refrain from noisemaking when there’s no chance of seeing a bear or when the trail is visible from both ends.
Stay away from bear food
Bears are omnivores, this means that they eat fish and smaller animals as well as plants, roots, grass, berries and insects. These are abundant in the backcountry but it doesn't necessarily mean that a bear is lurking close by.
One good indicator of bear presence is seeing a surplus of ravens and crows. This means that there’s a carcass nearby and bears may be feeding on these animal remains. You may even smell the carcass if you are downwind.
Hike during daylight hours
Bears are active during early mornings and late afternoons, so if you’re planning to head out during sunrise or sunset, be attentive and and remember what to do.
Keep food and hygiene products packed tightly
Bears, like any other animal, have a strong sense of smell. They are drawn to scented products and some have developed a taste for human food. To avoid attracting unwanted ursine attention, make sure that your food and hygiene products are packed tightly away and never leave food bits and garbage along the trail.
When all else fails and you have ended up face to face with a bear, do not turn your back and run. Their predatory response could be triggered and they may pursue. Stay calm and assess the situation. If the bear is unaware of your presence, slowly and calmly leave the area but if it sees you, identify yourself as a human by talking and calmly waving your arms without making eye contact.
If the bear decides to approach you, you will need presence of mind, this is the ability to stay calm and take decisive action. If the bear is attacking in an aggressive defensive manner, it is usually protecting its space, food or cubs, stand your ground and wait for the bear to stop charging. Once it stops, slowly back away. If it’s a black bear and it attacks with predatory purpose, it would be wise to fight back with bear spray, as it’s seeking prey and it won’t stop.
Make your bear country experiences safer, memorable and more enjoyable by educating yourself and being attentive and don’t forget to be in the moment, enjoy the fresh air, trail and camaraderie of an outdoor adventure.