Bear safety should always be on the mind of any backcountry hiker. There’s no need to be scared of bears, but you should be prepared.
On the West Coast, black bears can even be sporadically active in winter. In any case, it’s never too early to educate yourself for next year’s camping season.
Here are some tactics for pre-emptively dealing with bears in the bushes:
1. Avoid bears by making your presence pre-emptively known. While trekking through trails, chat loudly with your companion. Clap your hands. Every once in a while, yell out “No bear! No bear!” If you are hiking solo, sing a tune, ring a bell or take along a marine signal air-horn and give it a blast every once in a while.
2. Always be aware of your surroundings. Keep a lookout for bear sign, such as scat, tracks or rubs. Bears produce territorial warnings in the forms of these signs — further intrusion could be perceived as aggression on your part. Tempting as they are, stay away from berry patches — berries mean bears. Be wary of the smell of rotten flesh or fish — it’s bear attractor number one.
3. Don’t give bears a reason to come your way. If your plan is to have a picnic lunch followed by a hike, make sure your foodstuffs are consumed or returned to your car or campsite or disposed of properly. And keep mindful of your own scent. Did you wash with papaya shampoo this morning? What about coconut sunscreen?
Next post—determining bear behaviour!