Whilst on your travels in North America you may be lucky enough to encounter a bear, if you do see one hopefully it will be from your vehicle or at a distance, but if you run into one on the trails you should be prepared. Carry bear spray in an easily accessible place and know how to use it, follow these tips to stay safe and keep bears wild.
Make noise, especially when walking through areas of brush and trees. Shout or sing as you walk, if a bear hears you coming it will likely leave before you reach it.
If you come across a bear and it is yet to see you, leave the area in the direction you came as quickly and quietly as possible.
If you encounter a black bear at a close range make yourself seem as large as intimidating in possible, if there are a few of you group together wave your poles in the air, speak in a calming appeasing voice and continue facing the bear. Back away from the bear calmly and waving your poles, never turn your back as this can trigger the animal’s predator instinct.
If the bear turns away it may be getting ready to charge at you, this doesn’t mean it wants to fight, it is trying to give a warning that you are invading its territory. If the bear charges at you stand your ground, and deploy the bear spray, shout, throw rocks and act aggressively. If the bear persists you will have to fight, use anything you can; rocks, logs, poles. Shout, stamp your feet and make yourself intimidating.
If a grizzly sow with cubs attacks and makes contact, play dead, get into the foetal position face down with your hands protecting your head and neck. Keep your backpack on as this will add protection, keep your knees wide to prevent the bear from rolling you over. Grizzlies usually attack when they feel threatened, if you are playing dead you are no longer a threat to them and they should leave. You will have to wait in the foetal position until the bear has left the area, be certain the bear has gone before moving and seeking medical attention.
Bears are amazingly intelligent and once they associate humans/ tents/ cars with food they will correlate the two forever. By leaving food around your campground instead of storing it properly you are assisting the bear in it’s demise. National parks usually provide bear proof containers for items or suggest leaving food in a locked car, regulations vary between parks. Don’t leave out any kitchenware or items that contained food and drink as they will still smell interesting to the bears and provoke their curiosity.