Tips on surviving a bear encounter
September 22, 2009 by Bob Livingston
With the beginning of the fall season bears are becoming more active in some parts of the country, and those who plan to spend time outdoors may want to keep in mind a few tips on how to behave if they encounter the large animal.
Mark Ternent, a black bear biologist, says the likelihood can be reduced if people refrain from feeding wildlife, such as birds or deer, while on a trip or storing food or garbage in places such as backyard. Even squash, pumpkins, corn stalks or other Halloween or holiday decorations outside may attract bears.
"Once bears become habituated to an area where they find food, they will continue to return, which is when the bear can become a real problem for homeowners and neighbors," says Ternent.
He advises to stay calm if a bear has wondered onto your property. Often shouting at it from a safe distance can persuade the animal to leave. If not, it is a good idea to slowly retreat and call for assistance.
When coming into contact with a bear in the wild, it is best to slowly back away while quietly talking. While withdrawing, it is important to face the animal, but avoid direct eye contact. Turning and running can spur the bear to chase, and humans cannot outrun bears.
It is also important not to block the bear’s escape route, to move away from cubs and to avoid climbing a tree.
Some bears may bluff charge, and if this occurs the best approach is to wave your arms wildly, and shout at the bear.
Finally, the expert says in the event of an attack, fight back as you continue to leave the area as bears have been driven away with rocks, sticks, binoculars, car keys or even bare hands.