Almost the whole Appalachian Trail corridor is home to black bears. Black bears are usually timid animals that maintain their distance, so witnessing one may be a rare treat. They may, however, be a nuisance or a menace in some situations. Learn how to keep yourself (and the bears) safe.
While bear assaults on people are relatively uncommon, a startled bear or one that has gotten food from humans may respond angrily.
Bears may get acclimated to humans and become hostile in their search of human food, particularly at overnight locations where hikers have been negligent with food storage. Bears have a very good sense of smell, so keep that in mind.
Why is it stupid to be terrified of black bears?
Bear phobia is mainly unjustified, and here’s why: Berries are a favorite food of bears! Yes, they sometimes consume insects, fish, and, even less often, a dead helpless mammal like as a deer. They don’t simply go about hunting other animals – remember, they also hunt berries?
They’re terrified of you! They may be inquisitive at first, trying to smell you and figure out who you are, but once you show them how loud and vibrant you are, they will want nothing to do with you. You’re unlikely to spot a bear, particularly if you’re in a group, since they’ll hear you approaching from a mile away and flee.
When compared to the number of hikers that hit the AT each year, the number of individuals who have experienced unfavorable bear experiences is miniscule! However, being terrified isn’t that foolish.
Even while black bear assaults are rare, they have been on the rise in recent years as bears have become used to receiving food from people in high traffic, regularly utilized places such as campsites or the Appalachian Trail during peak season.
Attacks by black bears
Bears are very intelligent creatures that learn and adapt fast. So, if people leave food out and garbage at camp sites again and over again during the summer, bears will go where they can find easy food! They also learn to link humans, tents, and/or packs with food, which is when things start to become dangerous. Because an experienced bear may believe you have food on you or in your tent even if you don’t!
Useful safety tips to keep in mind when you encounter a bear
I’ll start with some of the more apparent bear-behavior standards, and then go into the finer points and subtleties.
- Don’t run
Its predatory pursuit impulse is triggered as a result of this. You may be just another creature in the woods at any given time… When you start running, though, you become a lot more intriguing!
It will pursue you, and things will not turn out well. A bear can run at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. The fastest human running speed ever recorded was 27.44 miles per hour, which was obtained during a short 100-meter race.
Any wild animal that behaves as a predator should follow the same instructions. Do not flee from wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, sharks, or terrifying bunnies with large sharp fangs.
- Stick to a group
A bear attacking a group of humans on foot is very unusual. That makes sense… Would you start a bar fight if you were five to one at a bar? A bear, on the other hand, would not. Even a single companion is more demoralizing than being alone. Those college lads from the previous link should have stuck together.
- Sing a song
Make a lot of noise in low-visibility places. This manner, a possible bear will be aware of your presence and will not be surprised. The most effective way to identify oneself as a two-legged, big-brained homo-sapiens is to use your own human voice.
So, every now and again, sing a tune or just say “Hey bear.” Bear bells have been demonstrated in studies to be useless and to mix in with other natural noises such as birdsong. This is especially true for grizzly bears. Because grizzlies are similar to honey badgers, practically everything here is designed for them. They are unconcerned. Black bears, on the other hand, are reminiscent of large raccoons. Black bears only attack when they are desperate, crazy, and/or habituated.
- Give enough space to the bear
It may seem self-evident, but if you spot a bear, don’t approach it for a photo. It’s alright if you want to turn around and shoot a selfie with your back to the camera… There might be fewer individuals like you in the gene pool.
Until this person came along in 2012, Denali National Park (Alaska) could confidently say that “Nobody has ever been fatally attacked by bear in the Park.” Considering the number of people that stomp about the bush up there year after year, the fact that just one person has been murdered in Denali is still a positive statistic. It’s forbidden to be within 300 yards of a bear in most National Parks (including Denali), and you may get a citation for it. That’s because there’s a reason for it. Keep your distance.
- If a bear attacks you while hiking, don’t back down.
That’s correct. If a bear approaches you as if you’re dead meat, you must stay still and accept your destiny. When a bear charges, I assume that everything occurs extremely quickly… like when you strike a deer with your car.
Holding on to your trekking poles while waving your arms will help repel an actual assault. Swinging your arms also helps you be recognized as a non-tasty human. We’re the only large animals capable of making such a motion with our arms. In its moment of surprise, the bear may fear that you are a more natural danger (Like another bear). As a result, the more you can do to swiftly demonstrate that you’re human, the better. If feasible, take a few steps back while still facing the bear, as gently and quietly as you can.
And forget all that nonsense about climbing a tree. Not only does it seem ridiculous, but bears can also climb trees. A black bear once slid down the trunk of a tree like a classic firefighter sliding down a pole at the firehouse. Hopefully, it’ll turn out to be a bluff charge, and you’ll have a fantastic tale to tell for the rest of your life.
- Get bear spray
It’s effective. Most versions come with a holster that easily slips into your backpack’s hip belt. Attacks happen quickly, so keep the canister on your waist rather than stowing it in your bag or even a side pocket.
Similarly, each member of your group should have their own canister. When you first receive it, read the instructions and (very carefully) try removing the safety clip to observe how it comes off (Be sure to replace the safety afterward, duh). If you do need to utilize it, keep in mind that the wind is a factor to consider. You don’t want to squirt this stuff on yourself.
Bear spray is carried by outfitters near major places including Yellowstone, Glacier, and Denali. You may also buy it online but be sure to verify with your airline before flying to avoid being stranded at a TSA water-boarding station. You’re permitted to carry bear spray in black bear territory as well, although most people will notice it and laugh at you.
- now How to Spot a Bear Black bears, and grizzlies existing in the same place.
You’ll want to know which sort of bear you’re dealing with if you’re being attacked. Brown bears may seem black, while black bears can appear brown. Looking for a prominent hump of muscle over the back of the bear’s neck – grizzly bears have one, while black bears have not – is the most dependable method to tell them apart. Claws on grizzlies are also longer. A grizzly bear is shown at the top of this page.
- Play dead
Remember that grizzlies, like honey badgers, are unconcerned. Because they don’t give a damn, they’re more inclined to attack on the spur of the moment. In the end, this indicates that a grizzly bear is less hazardous than a black bear when you’re attacked.
Because the grizzly bear is unconcerned, it is more likely to get disinterested in you. Is that clear? Act as though you’re dead. Kneel down, clasp your hands behind your neck, and press your face into the soil. This throws your bag into the air, where it will hopefully fall into the bear’s jaws.
People, believe it or not, have pretended to be dead and lived, such as this guy in 2012. The theory is that the bear is attacking you because it feels threatened, so if you pee yourself and curl up into a ball, it will quickly realize you’re just a squeamish little human who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
- Fight Back if a Black Bear Attacks You!
Almost single black bear I’ve ever seen has bolted into the woods when they’ve been startled. It isn’t only me that has a foul odor after a week of trekking. The majority of black bear sightings are the same — a brief glimpse of the bear’s back end, rumbling to and forth as it flees.
This is due to the fact that most states have a black bear hunting season, and bears learn to link humans with weapons. Bears (like with wild deer and other big creatures) have an inherent aversion to people. So, if a black bear attacks you, it’s either famished and desperate or just plain insane. You will very certainly be devoured if you pretend to be dead, therefore you must fight.
Scream, yell, thrust your trekking pole up its nose, stab its eyes out, and let your crazy alter-ego go with all you’ve got. Fight to the death for your life. This hunter was fortunate to have a knife, and if Grandma can fend off a mountain lion, you may be able to fight off a black bear. Because black bears are so fearful, most experienced hikers have a false feeling of security around them. I used to think about what would happen if it came down to a battle while hiking the Appalachian Trail.
- Never Give Your Food to a Bear
Consider yourself a black bear wandering the woods. You consume roots, leaves, berries, and bugs, among other things… Every day, all day. You could receive some honey or a bunny if you’re fortunate. Then one day, a hiker leaves a stinky bag of food unattended, and it turns out to be the most delicious meal you’ve ever eaten! You want more, but you will never be able to have it. Or do you think you can?
You’re not foolish; you know the excellent stuff belongs to the two-legged hikers. You’re enthralled, and you want more. As a result, you begin to follow them around. You stay around near their sleeping quarters, trying to get in between them and their ravenous appetites. If you’re feeling very courageous, you may even fake attack a hiker in the hopes of scaring him into dropping his food. Never give your food to a wild animal.
- Obey all local laws and regulations.
Remember how I said that bears are afraid of humans because we like to kill them and display their heads on our walls? Because no hunting is permitted in the National Parks, bears are more prevalent in the Parks than in other areas. Rangers make the rules and regulations to keep you safe from wild-eyed, Snickers-obsessed bears harassing and attacking you.
Stick to the guidelines. Many parks, for example, require you to carry a large and hefty bear canister. Others restrict you to camp only in approved locations, which are furnished with a secure storage facility for your food.
- Use Common Sense When Camping in Grizzly Country
There will be three key spots in your grizzly country camping. They should all be within 100 yards of each other, forming a triangle. Sleeping at a spot that is upwind of the other two sites is good. Everything that has a fragrance, such as toothpaste, lotions, and other cosmetics, should be kept away from your meals. Keep the camp clean by eliminating crumbs and spills.