July is Bear Logic Month – Keep Our Bears Wild!
I love being outdoors and hiking. Part of what I like about hiking in the Sierras is the natural beauty of the forest. Of course, an important part of the forest ecosystem is all the critters running around…including Black Bears.
Down here in the Santa Cruz Mountains, we are more likely to see black tailed deer, red fox, bob cats, or mountain lions. Although, I’ve never actually seen a mountain lion on the trail. However, while back packing in the Sierras, I have seen bears…several hundred yards away from me off the trail.
Although they seem “cute” and “cuddly”…let’s all remember that bears are wild animals and should be given both our respect…and, a wide berth.
The NDOW has some suggestions should you encounter a Bear on the trail:
Whether you are living and/or recreating in bears country you should know how to act in a bear encounter. Keep in mind that bears exhibit stress behaviors which indicate their anxiety and preference to avoid conflict with you. These are not necessarily signs of an aggressive bear.
* Moaning and woofing while avoiding direct eye contact with you.
* Clacking of their teeth and smacking of their jaws.
* Stomping on their front feet and false charges which stop short of making contact with you.
In most cases these behaviors are the bears way of telling you that you are too close. Back up and leave the area. Although black bears very rarely attack people, those attacks have increased in number over the last 20-30 years. Knowing how to behave in an encounter will help keep you and your loved ones safe.
* Never approach or feed a bear! Give them respect by keeping your distance and observing them from a safe area.
* Give a bear plenty of room to pass by and it usually will.
* Keep a close watch on children while they are outdoors and teach them what to do if they see a bear. Tell them to stay together, back away from the bear and find an adult.
* If a bear approaches you, speak in a loud, firm voice “get away bear!” Raise your arms to make yourself appear bigger and back away to a safe area. You cannot outrun a black bear as they are capable of bursts of speed up to 35 miles per hour!
* In the rare event of a bear attack people have succeeded in driving away the bear by hitting it with stout sticks, rocks and punching it in the nose.
* Carry bear spray and know how to use it! NDOW does not endorse any product but our bear biologist and game wardens use Counter Assault for close bear encounters.
* Keep a clean camp Never store food in your tent
* Do not cook in the same clothes you sleep in and always cook away from your sleeping area.
So, remember to respect Bears…and all of the critters we may see on the trail. Let’s keep ’em all wild.
Where are you hiking on this Independence Day Weekend?
If you’re looking for me, I’m over the hill!