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Out of Their Dens

yellowstone-bears

I love hiking. I do it whenever I can. There is nothing better than being out in nature, breathing fresh air and getting sunshine. If you hike in Yellowstone, you need to be bear aware. Bear attacks are rare and I'm not trying to scare anyone, I just want you to have fun and stay safe!

So what if you come across a grizzly bear? What should you do? First of all, read the information you'll get from the ranger station upon entering the park. Now, if you will be doing some hiking in the back-country, it's best to do it in a group of 3 or 4 or more other folks. Bring bear spray. Talk and make noise, wear bear bells, clap your hands every so often. In most cases, bears will high tail it in the opposite direction if they hear you coming.

If you surprise one though, it may attack you. So if you turn a corner and there is a bear, first of all DON'T RUN. If you run it will chase you. Instead, avert your eyes and back away slowly. Talk in a low, non-threatening tone of voice (yes, talk to the bear in a soft voice so it will know you are human and not a prey animal) and leave the area.

If you have small children with you, pick them up immediately.

The bear may stand on it's hind legs to get a better look at you and to smell the air. When a bear stands, it's usually not threatening but just curious. It will probably scare the hell out of you though but don't scream.

This will be difficult I know, but try to remain calm. Most bears do NOT want to attack you and usually just want to be left alone. Bears may bluff their way out of an encounter by charging and then turning away at the last second. Bears may also react defensively by woofing, yawning, salivating, growling, snapping their jaws, and laying their ears back. Continue to talk to the bear in low tones; this will help you stay calmer, and it won't be threatening to the bear. A scream or sudden movement may trigger an attack. Never imitate bear sounds or make a high-pitched squeal.

Make yourself look larger by moving to higher ground if you can.

Never ever allow the bear to have any of your food. Keep it tightly concealed so the bear can't smell it. Never drop your pack. It can be good protection.

If the bear is stationary, move away slowly and sideways; this allows you to keep an eye on the bear and avoid tripping. Moving sideways is also non-threatening to bears. Do NOT run, but if the bear follows, stop and hold your ground. Bears can run as fast as a racehorse both uphill and down. You can't outrun them. Like dogs or cats, they will chase fleeing animals. Do NOT climb a tree. Both grizzlies and black bears can climb trees much faster than you.

If you see a mama and her cubs, be particularly cautious. She will protect those cubs at all costs. Never approach them and don't ever put yourself between the mother and the cubs. She will attack you.

This is from the NPS site: Bear attacks are rare; most bears are only interested in protecting food, cubs, or their space. However, being mentally prepared can help you have the most effective reaction.

Every situation is different, but below are guidelines on how brown bear attacks can differ from black bear attacks. Help protect others by reporting all bear incidents to a park ranger immediately. Above all, keep your distance from bears!

Brown/Grizzly Bears: If you are attacked by a brown/grizzly bear, leave your pack on and PLAY DEAD. Lay flat on your stomach with your hands clasped behind your neck. Spread your legs to make it harder for the bear to turn you over. Remain still until the bear leaves the area. Fighting back usually increases the intensity of such attacks. However, if the attack persists, fight back vigorously. Use whatever you have at hand to hit the bear in the face.

Black Bears: If you are attacked by a black bear, DO NOT PLAY DEAD. Try to escape to a secure place such as a car or building. If escape is not possible, try to fight back using any object available. Concentrate your kicks and blows on the bear's face and muzzle.

If a bear attacks you in your tent, or stalks you and then attacks, do NOT play dead—fight back! This kind of attack is very rare, but can be serious because it often means the bear is looking for food and sees you as prey.

And remember, bear spray is the best weapon against an attacking bear.

Also, remember to always stop in a ranger station to let them know where you will be hiking and when you expect to return. This awesome photo was taken by Adam Willoughby-Knox.

If you keep these tips in mind, you'll be fine and you'll have a wonderful time you'll never forget. =]:)

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