Spring is here, which means its the perfect time of year to grab a flannel and get outside. It also means the bears are out and about. If you have been spending your time outdoors this spring, there is a good chance you have already seen a bear or two. The Canadian Rocky Mountains are home to both grizzly and black bears. You can run into a bear anywhere here, it might be on a busy trail close to town or in the remote back-country. Bears generally prefer to avoid people. However, encounters between bears and people do occur.
Kyle our IT guy saw this Brown Bear on the Sunshine Village Access Road on May 10
Here is a few tips for you to safely observe one of natures great creatures this summer...
Make noise! Let bears know you're there. Call out, clap, sing or talk loudly especially near streams, dense vegetation and berry patches, on windy days, and in areas of low visibility. Bear bells are not enough.
Keep your dog on a leash at all time or leave them at home. Dogs can provoke defensive behavior in bears.
Travel in large groups. Larger size groups are less likely to have a serious bear encounter. We recommend hiking in a tight group of four or more. Never let children wander.
Carry bear spray with you at all times on the trail, and know how to use it. Bear spray can be effective with some bears when used properly. Check the expiration date and be aware that wind, spray distance and rain can influence its effectiveness. Bear spray has a spray distance of about 25 feet and lasts about 6 seconds. Familiarize yourself with the proper use of bear spray and have it easily accessible.
IF YOU SEE A BEAR
Stop and remain calm. Grab your bear spray and prepare to us it if necessary.. Do not run away. If the bear is unaware of your presence you can move away quietly without getting its attention. If the bear is aware of your presence and seems agitated you may experience a “bluff charge”. Bears may bluff their way out of an encounter by charging and then turning away at the last second. Bears can also react defensively by woofing, growling, snapping their jaws and laying their ears back.
If you find yourself in this situation follow these tips......
Stay calm. Your calm behavior can reassure the bear. Screams or sudden movements may trigger an attack.
Speak to the bear. Talk calmly and firmly. This lets the bear know you are human and not a prey animal. If a bear rears on its hind legs and waves its nose about, it is trying to identify you.
Back away slowly Never run! Running may trigger a pursuit.
Make yourself appear BIG. Pick up small children and stay in a group.
Do not drop your pack. It can provide protection.
If you are uncomfortable or would like to get more educated on the subject, you can check if your community offers “Bear Aware” or “Living with Wildlife” programs. Before you head out this summer check if any bear activity has been reported in that area and be sure to bring the proper equipment, and of course a flannel!