Imagine that you have to go through bear territory… How to behave? What to expect? How to be safe as much as possible? What to do if you encounter a bear? Should you fight with bear or should you pretend to be dead?
It is good to know that bears are not territorial animals, meaning, they are not attached to their territory. They move around. And why is that good? It is good because you can keep them away from the place where you are currently in. Although logic may say to you that it is better to be stealthy and quiet when you are passing through bear territory…in reality that is probably worst thing to do. If bear doesnt notice you and doesnt know that you are coming and then all of sudden he realizes that you are closed, he will be unpleasantly surprised and he will attack you. It is best to make noise, to talk, sing and even play music while you are going through bear territory. In that way bears will know that you are coming and they will move further away from the noise. You see, just like you, bears are also afraid of potential dangers… If they can hear potential danger, they will avoid it. But if they cant hear you and then all of sudden they realize that you are close to them, they feel threatened and they will attack you.
But what to do if you do encounter one?
There are few things you can do, but that depends on which kind of bear you encounter.
There are grizzly bears (brown bears) and black bears. Both of them are different in their behavior. Lets see what happens when you encounter them.
Grizzly bears doesnt have predatory behavior towards humans. They will not kill you or eat you. (Although there are few exceptions), but grizzly bears are attacking you only because they feel threatened. Mother grizzly with her cubs is most dangerous. She will go after you because she is afraid that you are a threat to her cubs. If you encounter grizzly bear, just stop, talk to bear in calm voice..and slowly back-off. Some bears will realize that you are not a threat and they will not attack. If grizzly bear stoods up on two legs, that doesnt meant that he is preparing to attack you but rather he is trying to get a better sense of situation. If they do charge you, use bear spray on them…which of course you have to have when you are going through bear territory. If grizzly bear doesnt back-off after you sprayed him…lay down in fetal position..put your head as low as you can and try to protect your vital organs. It is good also if you have big hiking backpack on your back…that will for sure help you. And just play dead. Grizzly bear will slap you few times, touch you, but when he realizes that you are not moving, he will just go away because you are no longer a threat and he didnt want to attack you because he wanted to hurt you, he attacked you because he felt threatened by you.
They are smaller and weaker than grizzly bears. They are also less dangerous. But unlike grizzly bears, black bears can have predatory behavior toward humans..so if black bear attacks you, dont pretend dead because you will end up dead. Again, if black bear charges you, use bear spray. If that doesnt work, then just fight with bear. Kick him, punch him, go for his eyes and his face.. Throw things at him.. Attack him back. They are very afraid animals. And if they see that you are willing to fight and that you are acting aggressively, they will back-off. So you can scare black bears very easily. Dont be afraid to be aggressive with them. Of course, dont provoke him, but if he starts to threat you or acting aggressively, than you be as well aggressive.
Big number of bear encounters dont end up fatal.. Thats because bears are afraid just as you are and they dont have an intention to attack you.
What about guns? Are guns efficient in battle with bears? Of course that they are… Problem is that on lots of places you will not be allowed to carry weapons and if you kill bear, you can face serious legal issues. So it depends from places and countries. But however it is better too not use guns unless you absolutely have to because bear sprays are usually enough and you dont end up killing the animal. But if you have no other choice, use gun.
But remember, if you have to go through bear territory, it is best to go in bigger groups and to be loud so that bears knows that you are coming and then they have enough time to go even further away from you.