Hiking, camping, traveling, working or just walking your dog anywhere you could encounter bears requires advance planning. Being bear smart is the best way to have fun, stay safe and avoid creating problems for yourself and the bears.
"Living With Bears Handbook is the best single source of information and inspiration on how to understand bears and reduce human-bear conflicts."Stephen Herrero, author of Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance
Hiking takes you into places wild animals call home. You're the guest; they're the residents. It's up to you to learn how to enjoy spending time on their home turf without doing any damage. Statistically speaking, your chances of even seeing a bear are slim; the odds you'll be involved in an unpleasant encounter are slimmer still.
But if you do encounter a bear, not knowing how to respond and behave could turn a dream day in the woods into a nightmare, or even cost you your life.
So arm yourself with the information you need to stay safe, have fun and make bear-smart decisions now – then you won't constantly be worrying about what might lurk around every corner, and the woods will be safer for both people and bears.
Ten Tips for Hiking in Bear Country
For more information, please read chapters 16 and 17, and the "Crossing Paths with Bears" section in Living with Bears Handbook.
Dogs were involved in more than half of the 150 reported non-fatal black bear attacks on humans between 2010 and the end of 2015. Just under half (46%) of the dogs were injured or killed; their owners did not fare quite as well, with 62% of them suffering injuries. Most of the dogs involved had been off-leash, a situation that can easily result in an aggravated bear chasing a yapping canine back to its owner with unhappy consequences for all involved.
Experts recommend that if you walk your dog in bear country, you keep it on a short leash at all times, carry bear spray and a walking stick, stay alert and turn off your electronics.
SOURCE: Hank Hristienko and Stephen Herrero's paper in International Bear News, 2014, and updated statistics from authors, 2016.