With the temperatures warming up, and longer days upon us, camping season will soon be in full swing (for some, it has already started). Of course, when enjoying your time with family and friends outdoors, we wanted to discuss the importance of bear safety, and what you can do if you find yourself encountering one.
Tips to stay safe
There are several things you can do to help avoid an unwanted visitor to your campsite. The more proactive you are in taking strides to not welcoming a bear into your area, the better.
Location, location, location
When you are choosing your campsite, it is important to consider the location. You want to stay away from wildlife trails, tree cover, and/or berry patches. If you are staying in a well populated area, with other campers, you are less likely to encounter a bear due to the noise and activity.
Keep your site clean
It is important to keep anything that will attract a bear cleaned up or stored away properly. Items such as food (including pet food) should be kept in airtight containers. You should also keep containers at least 50-100 meters from where you sleep. Get rid of waste properly. Don’t bury or partially burn food scraps as this will entice bears to come near. Ensure garbage is disposed of immediately. It is good practice to consider using bear resistant storage lockers, or in the trunk of your car, especially when sleeping!
When cooking, do so away from your tent, and don’t eat in your tent. Once you have finished, clean up your dishes right away, and dispose of the water you used to wash dishes at least 100 meters downwind of your campsite.
Be cautious at night
While bear attacks can happen at any time, they tend to be more active at dusk, night, and dawn. Therefore, be extra cautious around your campsite during these hours, and ensure you are aware of your surroundings. Keep animals close by and ensure they are leashed so that they don’t take off after a bear, or any other animal. It is also a good idea to keep them close, as they can often alert you of a bear.
What if you encounter a bear?
If you do cross paths with a bear, keep these safety tips in mind:
Never run: Stay calm and if you are travelling with others, keep together. If the bear doesn’t see you, move away slowly and quietly.
Assess the situation: Look around and access your surroundings. If you happen to see cubs or an animal carcass, the bear will likely want to protect them. Back away slowly if you see either. Your best route is to back out the way you came in. Keep eye contact with the bear as you do so, but in a non-threatening way.
Prepare to use bear spray: When in areas that there is a possibility of a bear, you should always carry bear spray with you.
Speak quietly: By speaking to the bear in a low, calm voice, you are alerting it that you are not prey.
If a bear charges, don’t run. Make yourself look as big as possible and yell loudly. This is when you would use your bear spray. You can also use rocks or sticks to defend yourself. If the bear makes contact, play dead. To protect yourself, lie on your stomach, and cover the back of your neck with your hands. You want to ensure the bear has left the area before you make any kind of movement.
Travelling with others and being prepared is important. If you are alone, ensure you alert someone of your plans, and keep them updated.
We want everyone to enjoy their camping season safely! If you have questions or would like more information regarding bear safety, we offer several courses you can check out on our website.