Bears are wild creatures, though most of the time they can be very safe. They are not friendly, but they will often stay away and pose no threat whatsoever to hikers and campers. However, this is often exactly the thing that gets people into trouble. They have no problems with bears and so, while they don’t forgot that the bears are there, they get careless. It happens with time and experience, simply because it is hard to keep anything fresh and urgent within one’s mind, no matter how important that information is or how dangerous the consequences can be. There are some simple things to keep in mind to make sure that one’s next camping or hiking trip will be completed with no danger at all.
First of all, the hiker must remember at all times to make some noise. When hiking in the pristine wilderness, perhaps in the vast reaches of a mountain range with no other people for miles, making noise seems almost like the opposite of what one would want to do. The area is nice and quiet and the instinct then is not to disturb it. The problem with this is that startling a bear is one of the worst things one can do, and the bear could react with fear and violence. Stumbling upon them while they are eating or with their cubs can be disasterous. The flip side of that is that bears who hear humans coming will often just lumber off into the forest, and the whole problem is avoided. When they feel startled, they feel threatened, so hikers should always make a lot of noise to make sure bears know they are coming.
If the noise does not work and one does come across a bear unexpectedly, a common mistake is for a hiker or camper to panic. Staying calm is crucial. The bear may turn quickly toward a pack of hikers, and may even rear up on its hind legs, but panic will only upset the creature further. One must just set down what one is carrying and slowly back away from the startled animal. This will often show the bear that one is not, after all, a threat. They will then wander off and the problem will be averted, albeit with a little sweat and a racing heartbeat no doubt involved on the part of the hikers.
Another mistake people often make is to not clean up very well. This is especially important after eating, as bears can smell food and will be attracted to the scent. They will want to search out the food and get to it, even if it is in tents or other living quarters. Bears could then become violent when they arrive at the camp and find humans there. The smells of meat and grease are very strong; it is a good idea to burn all of the excess when one is finished, and to store what must be stored in bear-proof containers. It is also a good idea to situate the camp so that the food and the tents are not in the same place. Carrying the food off a ways to store it outside of the camp may be a bit of a hassel, but is well worth it if a bear comes looking for a snack.
Sometimes, campers will not take care of their trash as they should, and this is a big mistake in bear country. It may be trash, but they could come looking for it in the same way that they would come looking for food. Putting trash into the trunk of a car is a good way to keep it from bears, as is putting it in bear-proof containers. Either way, one must make sure never to leave it around the camp or even to bury it in the ground. A bear will still smell it and dig it up, even if one feels it has been buried quite deep.
Bear encounters are not frequent, and violence even less so. If hikers and campers remember not to make the mistakes above, they will ensure a safe and exciting experience. Bears do not pose much danger at all if the proper steps are taken and not forgotten.