Staying Safe Outdoors – Bears

Camping can be a lot of fun but we have to be aware of the dangerous animals that we may come into contact with while we’re out and about. Coming in contact with a bear is a possiblity. Bears can be dangerous. The key to saying safe outdoors when you’re among a wild bear or bears is to follow a few simple rules.

Bears are scavengers. Bears commonly get into people’s garbage. Campsites are a great resource for a wild bear. Think of it. A campsite always has food and garbage. A campsite is a gold mine for a bear. The idea is to keep your campsite from becoming a shining beacon for a wild bear. Do NOT go to sleep at night with a full garbage can outside. If there is a dumpster on the campsite, use it each day. Garbage like papers and such are fine as long as they aren’t ridden with food remains. Bag food garbage (including used paper plates and plastic ware) in a separate bag and dispose of it in the dumpster. No matter if the garbage bag is full or not, do NOT leave your campsite unattended unless all food garbage is properly disposed of.


Make sure you have a good quality, air tight cooler to store your meats and other food items in. It will be much more difficult for a bear to smell your food in an air tight cooler. A bear’s sense of smell is many times greater than ours. A bear will smell food much sooner and much beter than any human.

A Bear Encounter

Now if you happen to stumble upon a bear while out in the woods, pay no attention to anything you’ve ever seen in a Hollywood movie. Note…A bear can climb a tree as good as a cat can. Do not be fooled by thinking that you can get away from a bear by climbing up a tree. If they want a piece of you, they’ll shimmy right up that tree and knock you out of it. If you encounter the misfortune of a bear actually chasing you hopefully, you’re near a solid structure, but if not, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances. I don’t care if you hold your college record for the fastest one hundred yard sprint. You will NOT be able to out run a bear up hill or on level ground. Bears front leggs are shorter than they’re back legs. They cannot run downhill very fast at all. You can likely out run a bear downhill. We’re built a bit like a bear. Get down on all fours and see how fast you can run down hill compared to how fast you can run uphill and you’ll see. If your’e near a body of water and you can swim, you can likely out swim a bear. If you encounter an angry bear and there is not hill to run down an no body of water there is one thing you can do. Grab two rocks that are about the size of a pack of cigarettes or a bit larger. Place one in each hand and bang them together hard and yell at the same time. Bears hate loud noises as do dogs and most animals. Two rocks banging together make a loud and intense noise. Most bears will want to get away from that loud noise and they will turn around and run away.

Black Bears

Black bears are more of a pest than a danger. Though they have been known to attack humans, it’s not very common. The only times a wild black bear will come after you is if you are between the mother and her cubs or if you happen to stumble upon one while they are feeding on a kill. They will think you are trying to take away their food and attack you or any other mamal that comes along while they are eating. Black bears will usually run away from you.

Grizzly and Brown Bears

Grizzly and brown bears are very dangerous. The same rules apply except if you see one, you must assume that your life is in danger.

Respect nature and educate yourself as much as you can about the animals and nature. Not only will you be more likely to have a safe adventure, but a fun and educational one as well. Have a great time and stay safe.