Visiting the mountains, hiking on trails, and camping outdoors can be a fun and awesome experience. It is easy to get caught up in nature’s beauty and forget that you need to use caution. While all wild animals deserve respect, the Bear, is the one that we need the most caution with. I am not saying that other animals like the Mountain Lion and Coyote are any safer. It is just that the Bear is more common to see on your camping or hiking trip.
The Black Bear can be found throughout North America. Believe it or not they can even be found in Central Florida. They are heavily populated throughout the North East from the Great Smoky Mountains through Virginia and West Virginia up to Canada.
When hiking on trails, it is a good idea to make a lot of noise, use a bear bell, go in a group and carry some Bear Spray. If you are alone or a small family, go hiking on more heavily populated trails so you are not alone. Also, leave your dog at home and keep your children close by. Do not wear strong scents, like perfume or hair spray. Do not carry food out in the open. The Bear has a strong sense of smell and would even go after toothpaste stored in a tent! Remember that bears have unpredictable behavior, so do not approach a bear or let it approach you.
If you see a Black Bear while Hiking, stay at least 150 feet (50 yards) away. Make noise to let the bear know you are there. If you surprise a Black Bear at close range, back away slowly while facing the bear. Whatever you do, do not run. The Black Bear will chase you and can run up to 35 mph. Try to remain as calm as you can, I know easier said than done. Do not climb a tree, because the bear is an excellent tree climber. The Black Bear may bluff charge you, just stand your ground and yell at the bear. Use your bear spray (must be used at close range, around 15 feet), just be careful that it is not into the wind, the spray will blow back on you.
If you are camping in bear country, store your food in a food storage container in your car out of view or tie it up in a tree away from your tent. Do not wear clothes that you have cooked in, store that with the food. Place all gum, toothpaste and deodorant with the food storage. Never store food or any strong smelling item in your tent. Throw your garbage away in a bear proof container. Wash all utensils and dishes right away.
Black Bear attacks are rare, but it is always best to take precautions and be bear aware. Never feed a bear, this is what makes them lose their fear of humans and it is fatal to the bear in the long run.
Now that you are bear aware you can enjoy the outdoors and your surroundings more safely.