Tips to stay off bear trouble while camping

Whenever you go into the woods, make sure people know where you are going, and take a cell phone/mobile with you.

If possible, walk downwind; that is, with your back to the wind. Let your scent alert any bears to your presence.

Do not keep food in your tent when camping.

Always use proper food storage containers or suspend your food at least four meters off the ground using a park food pole or suspended between two trees. There are items called “bear bins” that you can buy or rent to store foodstuffs. Remember that most species of bear are excellent climbers.

Stand your ground unless you are certain the bear sees you as dinner.

Bears are extremely protective of their young, and will go crazy if they see a human next to a cub. Therefore, even if it’s just a cub, back off.

If you have a firearm, use it

If you have a firearm, use it to save your life if needed and only if you are truly in serious danger (not just a bluff charge). If it comes down to it use the weapon if you know how to use it properly. If you must shoot a bear, wait until it is close (30 or 40 feet at most), and aim for the low neck or head area. If you injure or kill the bear, be certain to report the encounter to the proper authorities.

If you need to play dead and you’re wearing a large backpack, the pack will add some protection to your vital areas, and you can lie on your stomach with your hands clasped behind your neck. Use your legs and elbows to try to prevent the bear from flipping you over, but do not struggle. If you look dead and harmless, a defensive bear will usually leave you alone.

Bears are attracted to smells, so keep all your trash together and don’t keep it near where you are sleeping. Be sure to stow or dispose of properly of any medical supplies or hygiene products that have blood on them. Zip lock bags provide some containment.

While visiting national parks where bears are very common (especially in the U.S.), make sure that you use the bear resistant garbage bin properly by following its instructions. The instructions regarding how to open and close the bin and properly store the garbage should always be followed. Improper storage of garbage allows the bears to eat them and become dependent on it. This typically increases the human- bear interaction, so be careful when in these situations.

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