How to Survive a Bear Scare

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“Always respect Mother Nature. Especially when she weighs 400 pounds and is guarding her baby.”
James Rollins, Ice Hunt

We wouldn’t mind meeting Bear Grylls, Bear Bryant, or heck even the legendary, dapper hat wearing, Smokey the Bear himself. Remember, only you can prevent forest fires, kids. The Bear that we aren’t excited to encounter is the one that is 600 lbs of furry fury. Ok, let’s be honest. Bear attacks are extremely rare in the North America.

Backpacker Magazine crunched the statistics and published that fatal bear attacks are just under 3 per year. With the NPS estimating 305 million National Park visitors in 2015, and millions more going into the backcountry, odds are definitely in your favor on this one. To be thorough, 90 people are killed by lightning per year, just in case you were wondering. However, if you happen to experience a bear encounter, it’s vital to know how to safely get out of the situation. Yeah we know it would be epic, but now is not the time for a selfie.

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The first thing to do when dealing with a bear scare, is to figure out which species you are dealing with. The reason it is important, is because it controls what your next move should be. The two bears you need to distinguish between are American Black Bears and Grizzly (Brown Bears).

bear id
Image from nps.gov

As you can see from the comparison above – the easiest way to identify a Grizzly is by the large shoulder hump, and the dish-shaped face in contrast to the long narrow face of the Black Bear.

Alright – so you now know which bear is trying to raid your camp, puncture your beer cans, eat all of your Peanut Butter sandwiches, and devour your Cliff bar stash. Now what…

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If you aren’t in the Northern states, chances are you are most likely encountering a Black Bear. Do not rely on coat color as they can be black, brown, cinnamon, blond, blue-gray, or white. During this “uh oh” moment, remember not to run or try to spider monkey up a tree. Bears are faster runners and better climbers than humans. If you are positive it is a Black Bear, you may be able to move it out of your campsite. Make sure not to back the bear into a corner, and ensure there is an exit path for our furry friend. If you can’t move the bear, stand as tall as you can, put your hands up in the air, and use a commanding tone as you tell it to leave. If the ruckus doesn’t get the bear moving, remove the safety from your bear spray and prepare against a charge or close encounter. If the bear breaks through the spray zone, it’s imperative not to play dead with this species. Fight for your life – throw haymakers, elbows, and kicks at it’s face and muzzle until it retreats in anguish.

If you are attacked by a grizzly bear, this is the situation where you should play dead. Spread your legs to distribute your weight and overt the bear from flipping you over. Put your hands behind your neck to protect your head. As hard as this may be, you must remain as still and silent as possible until the bear leaves the area. Fighting back against a Grizzly should only be done if he tries to make you into a happy meal. If that happens, use everything you have to fight back.

Now that you know how to defend yourself against the Furry Fury of a Bear Scare, we’ll leave you with this.

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Those snuggly little bears filled with cotton, usually referred to as “Teddy” bears, are actually named after President Theodore Roosevelt. On a camping trip in 1902, the President was the only person in his group that didn’t get a chance to witness a bear in the wild. The next day, the trackers in his group were able to find a bear and tied it to a tree so the President could shoot it. However, President Roosevelt refused to be so cruel. The bear was in pain and suffering so he ordered for it to be put down and did not shoot it. Word spread across the news and the “Teddy” bear was born.

Stay Wild

-Chad & Gina

 

 

 

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