5 Bear Safety Tips For Hikers
Hiking through the woods can be an exhilarating experience. While it strengthens your bond with nature, it can improve your mental health as well. However, you need to be very cautious while hiking as the chances of having an encounter with wild animals are significantly higher. And if it is a bear, you need to think on your feet.
It is important to note that bears usually try to avoid human interactions. A lot of them are even afraid of humans. However, with more people going on hikes in the woods, bears are becoming more accustomed to humans. Here are some useful bear safety tips that you should follow while hiking in the woods.
1. Check If A Bear Is Nearby:
Before starting a hike, have a lengthy conversation with the warden of the park to understand which path is less likely to have bear encounters. However, you need to look out for the signs of a bear’s presence while hiking. Knowing what does bear poop look like would help you understand if a bear is nearby. Also, you would notice the footprints if a bear has been in the area. If you sense the presence of a bear, it is best to return from the woods.
2. Keep Making Noises:
To avoid a surprise bear encounter, it is recommended that you keep making noises while hiking. The noises will alert other creatures in the area and keep them away from you. Talking loudly or singing a song would be enough if you are hiking on a less popular trail. For crowded trails, you may not need to do that, as the crowd will make noises anyway. For solo hikers, carrying a Bluetooth speaker may come in handy.
3. Do Not Leave Your Bags Unattended:
Leaving your packs or bags unattended during a hike is a rookie mistake. Since bears sleep through half the year, they aggressively search for food when awake. If they find human food in your unattended pack, they may start behaving aggressively toward other hikers to loot their food. This is why people are told not to share human food with bears or other wild animals. Get a waterproof backpack and keep it on or in sight throughout the hike.
4. Carry A Bear Spray:
If you have performed all the aforementioned safety measures and you still run into a bear, you need to prepare yourself for defense. Hikers are often advised to carry a bear spray that can help incapacitate an aggressive bear to some extent. Keep it in your pocket, or hang it on your belt for easy access. If a bear charges at you, point the nozzle toward it and spray it generously. The spray has a range of 25ft. So, you need to use the tool meticulously.
5. React Calmly In Front Of A Bear:
While bear spray is a potent deterrent in bear encounters, you should use it as a last resort. If a bear appears before you, do not start running. You would only be acting like prey if you did so. Instead, speak calmly and back away slowly. If you are in a group of four or more, stand together and make continuous noises. It will scare the bear. In case the bear still approaches you, get your bear spray ready. Once you make it out of the situation, go to the forest official or the park’s warden and tell them everything about the encounter.
To Sum It Up
Bear encounters do not always have to be a traumatic experience. If you are careful during your hike, you can avoid interaction with bears. Also, if there is a possibility of a bear encounter, it is better to hike in a large group. Bear won’t approach you if you outnumber it by a significant margin. You need to realize that the bear is not the one trespassing. You are. So, you need to be as careful as possible.