The most important thing to avoid becoming a statistic when in bear country is to proactively look out for situations that could leave you in a vulnerable position on the chance that you run into a grizzly bear or black bear. However, if you adhere to these seven basic approaches to hiking, camping, and enjoying the outdoors in bear country, you should greatly reduce your chances of a bad experience with a bear.
See the bear before you surprise it. Watch for fresh tracks, scat, and feeding sites (diggings, rolled rocks, torn up logs, ripped open ant hills).
Don’t Hike Alone
Hike in groups of three or more people. 91% of the people injured by bears in Yellowstone since 1970 were hiking alone or with only one hiking partner. Only 9% of the people injured by bears were in groups of three or more people.
Don’t Hike at Dawn, Dusk, or at Night
Avoid hiking at dawn, dusk, or at night: during summer, that’s when grizzly bears are most active.
When hiking, periodically yell “Hey Bear!” to alert bears to your presence, especially when walking through dense vegetation or blind spots, or traveling upwind, near loud streams, or on windy days. Avoid thick brush whenever possible.
Don’t Expect Bears to Notice You First
In Yellowstone, bears hibernate for approximately five months each year and have only seven months of active time to obtain all of their nutritional needs. Therefore a bear with its head down feeding may not see you as quickly as you would think. Pay attention, and see the bear before it sees you…and before you surprise it.
Bears will guard and defend carcasses against other scavengers or humans. Dead ungulates will attract and hold many bears near the carcass site. It is risky to approach a carcass; many bears may be bedded nearby just out of sight. If you find a fresh carcass, leave the area immediately by the same route you approached. Report all carcasses to the nearest ranger station or visitor center.
Stay With Your Stuff
Don’t leave packs, lunches, food, or beverages unattended as they may attract bears.
MORE BEAR FACTS TO KNOW
- 7 ways to reduce a bear attack
- How do you tell a black bear from a grizzly bear?
- What is difference between defensive and predatory bear attack?
- What do bears eat?
- grizzly bear facts
- grizzly bear ecology
- black bear facts
- black bear ecology
- bear management areas in Yellowstone ecosystem
- grizzly bears and the Endangered Species Act
- bear-inflicted fatalities and injuries
From the National Park Service