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What to do if you are hiking and you come across a bear?

2021-10-11T15:16:16.677Z

You are hiking on a glorious autumn day. Suddenly, you see a bear. And the bear has seen you too. Would you know what to do next?



They celebrate Fat Bear Week: what is it about?

0:47

(CNN) -

You're hiking on a glorious fall day.

Suddenly, you see a bear.

And the bear has seen you too.

Would you know what to do next?

Beth Pratt would sure know.

He was once on the Old Gardiner Road Trail in Yellowstone National Park, enjoying running through the wilderness.

His reverie came to an end when he came across a grizzly bear eating flowers.

"I stopped. He stood up on his hind legs and looked at me. I knew it was not a threatening gesture," he told CNN Travel.

"I'm not kidding, he waved his paw at me as if to say, 'just go your way,' and went back to eating."

"And I slowly walked away and put some distance between us, and the match ended well."

However, when it comes to dealing with bears, Pratt has a thing or two above us all.

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She is the California regional executive director for the National Wildlife Federation, a job she has held for more than 10 years.

He also worked in Yellowstone for several years, and once saw nine grizzly bears in one day there.

She is the author of "When Mountain Lions are Neighbors," which is about how people can coexist with wildlife in California.

And there is a chapter only about bears.

https://dynaimage.cdn.cnn.com/cnn/animations/w_634/211008090643-desktop-trvl-bear-article-loop.mp4

Finally, he lives on the border of Yosemite National Park, and bears pass through his garden, including this one seen in the pictures above, in late September.

You can hear the excitement in Pratt's voice as he shares his good faith and advice to make sure bear-human encounters are enjoyable, not dangerous.

  • Why Everybody Loves The Fat Bear Week Competition

"A wild bear is a beautiful image to see. It's amazing to see them in the wild. I never had a bad experience with bears. What I try to do is make people have respect, not fear, for bears. The animal generally wants to. avoid encounters. "

Bears in the news

Bear attacks are rare, note the Pratt and U.S. National Park Service (NPS) websites, but they do happen.

Earlier this month in North Carolina, a couple's unleashed dog attracted the unwanted attention of a black bear while they were picnicking on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

A few days ago, a hunter was attacked in Wyoming by a female

grizzly

, who was with her cubs.

In both cases, people survived the attacks.

But in the European country of Slovakia, a man died after being attacked by a brown bear in June.

They all illustrate the point that rare is never the same.

  • Man survives near-fatal encounter with brown bear that bit his head

Feasts for the beasts

An adult brown bear walks through a campground and picnic area in Lake Louise, which is in Alberta, Canada.

Make sure your food is never a temptation in bear land.

George Rose / Getty Images

This is a good time of year to learn facts and safety about bears because many are now in a phase known as hyperphagia, Pratt said.

"It's a period in the fall when bears eat everything to get fat and hibernate."

She noted that cougars are comparatively picky eaters.

Bears don't.

"They eat everything: ants. Run over animals. Flowers. Nuts. And, unfortunately, human food that is not insured. Our food is very attractive to them; they are easy calories."

Combine that with the fact that national parks have been setting attendance records in 2021 and turning away visitors, and you've got a recipe for potential trouble.

"If more people are using public lands and there are more people in the mix, there are more chances of encounters and conflicts. It worries me a bit," Pratt said.

The key is to be prepared, and that's where Pratt and others in the know come in.

First rule of the 'bear fighting club': Don't fight

The best strategy is to never put yourself in danger by luring or taunting a wild bear.

Trying to feed a bear or getting close to adorable cubs are particularly terrible ways to start an encounter.

That's just looking for trouble.

The US National Park Service site notes that every bear and every encounter is different, but there are general guidelines helpful in most situations.

First of all, keep your distance if you come across a bear.

Stay away from him and give him enough space to get away from you.

Yellowstone tells you to stay at least 100 yards (91 meters, or 300 feet) away;

Shenandoah National Park in Virginia suggests 200 feet (61 meters) for its black bears.

If you get too close, you may break the law.

This same week, a woman received four days in federal custody and fines for staying too close to a grizzly bear and her cubs in Yellowstone.

  • Fat Bear Week already has a winner

A

grizzly bear

named "399" walks with her four cubs outside Jackson, Wyoming, in June 2020. The mother lives in Grand Teton National Park and Bridger-Teton National Forest.

A wise hiker will never get between 399 and her cubs.

George Frey / Getty Images

Other tips:

- Talk calmly to yourself in low tones to identify yourself as human.

- Walk with a group (we are smellier and noisier in herds) and stay on designated trails.

- If you have a small child or a dog, pick it up.

- Do not put yourself between the puppies and their mother.

- Avoid direct eye contact and walk away slowly, sideways if possible.

Pratt said don't be alarmed if a bear stands on its hind legs;

it is not considered an aggressive move.

Almost all encounters are peaceful, Pratt said.

Often times, people didn't even know they were near a bear, like in this YouTube video that shows two people walking out of a basement oblivious to a nearby bear.

What if a bear starts to approach you anyway?

This brown bear roamed the Bavarian forest in Neuschonau, Germany.

If the bear starts running towards you, it is important that you stand your ground.

Running away is the wrong move.

Ingo Geriach / Barcroft Media / Getty Images

If a bear starts making assertive moves in your direction, you have to make big decisions, and fast.

The first thing is: Defend your position with the bears.

Either bears

grizzliy

 (a subspecies of brown bears) or black bears, "please do not run. Bears can run faster than anyone ,

" Pratt said.

"Don't climb a tree either. They can also climb trees better than you."

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife also has some tips:

- Make loud noises by yelling, banging on pots and pans, or using a horn to scare bears.

- Make yourself look as big as possible by moving your arms.

Pratt said you can typically be intimidated or tricked out of situations with bears that won't go away, depending on the bear species and the situation.

But what if a bear is about to attack?

Now you are in one of the strangest situations: you have attracted the attention of a bear.

It did not go away.

It has started to come to you aggressively and quickly.

You think you are about to be attacked.

Whats Next?

One very important thing is to do a quick identification of the type of bear, because your strategy will be different.

Study this face.

This is a black bear face.

If you are being attacked by a black bear, don't play dead.

Defend yourself.

Gentsch Frieze / picture alliance / dpa / Getty Images

If it's a black bear, the NPS and Pratt have a clear message: Don't run.

Don't play dead.

"You want to stand your ground with black bears. Look as intimidating as possible," Pratt said.

"Do not throw things at him, but near him. Make that black bear intimidated by you. Let him know that you are a big person. Take something, yell. If he attacks, fight back, aim for his face."

It's a different situation with grizzly bears

If you are dealing with a grizzly bear that won't back down and an attack is imminent, doing the opposite is recommended.

You should play dead.

"Act as harmlessly as possible with a grizzly bear. Play dead with a grizzly bear if it starts attacking," Pratt said.

"Get in and cover. Get into the fetal position. Wrap your hands around your neck. Lie on your stomach. Once you do, 99% of the time the grizzly will move on."

The NPS elaborates: "Stand still until the bear leaves the area. Counterattacking generally increases the intensity of such attacks. However, if the attack persists, fight back vigorously."

Fighting a grizzly

bear

is the last resort, "your Hail Mary pass," as Pratt called it, when all other options are off the table.

One exception to this rule: if you're camping in a tent and they attack you, that bear will likely see you as food.

The NPS and Pratt say this is a time to fight.

  • PHOTOS |

    Stunning images from the 2021 Best Wildlife Photographer competition

How do you distinguish a black bear from a brown bear?

First of all, know your area and read about the bears there.

In North America, brown bears have a much more limited range than black bears.

In the so-called

Lower

48 - the contiguous states of the United States - they are in Washington, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

And then in Alaska too.

They also cover much of western Canada.

Black bears have more territory.

They can be found in up to 40 states in the United States, much of Canada and even parts of northern Mexico, says the National Wildlife Federation.

Say you're in Quebec, the Appalachians, the Ozarks, California, or even parts of Florida, that's going to be a black bear.

But if you're in Yellowstone or Glacier National Park, for example, it could be a black bear or a grizzly

bear

.

That's when knowing how to do quick visual identification is crucial.

You cannot follow the color of the coat.

Black bears can be black, brown, tan, blonde, blue-gray, or white, according to Bear.org.

That's a brown bear on the left.

See the hump?

That is one way to differentiate it from a black bear, which does not have the hump behind the neck.

Getty Images

One of the best ways to tell the difference, Pratt said, is to look for a shoulder hump.

The

grizzly

have it

;

black bears, no.

He also said that the shapes of the face are different.

"I find black bear faces a little cuter, a little rounder, with a straight nose. A brown bear face looks more like a wild predator and has a bulging shape."

This National Park Services webpage there are more useful ways to differentiate.

Fun Facts: Eight species of bears can be found all over the world, from tropical Sri Lanka to the frigid reaches of Russia, Norway and Canada.

And European websites like Bear Watching Slovenia provide much of the same safety advice that North Americans receive.

Bear and Gun

Spray

Some people like to carry bear

spray

and / or a gun when venturing into bear country.

Pratt is an advocate for the former and says make sure to practice using it before heading out into the wild.

The NPS has a helpful video and tips on using

spray

to protect yourself from bears.

She is more cautious about carrying firearms with you, especially if you are inexperienced.

"Taking out a grizzly bear with a single shot would be difficult. It takes a lot of experience with a weapon to increase your chances of safety."

A 2008 Brigham Young University study found the spray to be more effective than a firearm.

And the spray doesn't permanently harm a bear.

Some people like to wear bear chimes on their hikes, hoping the noise will drive the animals away.

But the park service says "Yelling, clapping and talking are more effective ways to alert a bear to your presence."

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What campers need to know

If you are taking your vehicle on an overnight camping trip, try not to store food in it.

George Rose / Getty Images

If you are going to camp overnight, you need to take some additional considerations.

Kyle Patterson, Management Specialist and Public Affairs Officer at Rocky Mountain National Park, emailed CNN Travel about some ways to keep hungry bears away.

Patterson recommended using a food storage locker if it is provided at campgrounds and picnic areas.

Also, "avoid storing food and coolers in your vehicle. If necessary, store food in airtight containers in the trunk or out of sight. Close the vehicle windows completely."

Other tips and precautions:

- Do not store food in tents or pop-up caravans in campgrounds or vehicles at the beginning of the trails.

- Don't leave dirty food, coolers and kitchen utensils unattended.

The park rangers can confiscate them and summon you.

- Dispose of garbage in bear-resistant trash cans and garbage cans.

Human-fed bears generally end up with chronic problems and must be euthanized, Patterson said.

"A fed bear is a dead bear."

The ball is in our court

Pratt emphasized that it is up to humans to be accountable to these creatures.

"Bears are just bears. We are a much bigger threat to them. Bear attacks are very rare. And deaths are even rarer," he said.

"Bears' lives are more threatened than ours in encounters. I want people to have magical and wonderful experiences in nature. I want people to feel good about having these encounters."

Bear

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2021-10-11

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