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Kroubetz Lakeside Campers Lake Crystal, MN Blog

  • Published on Jul 19, 2015
    Bear Safety Tips

    Bear Safety Tips

    Did you hear the recent story about a bear that drank 36 beers and passed out at a campsite in Washington State? It was reported that a bear got into some campers coolers and drank all of the Rainier beer but left the Busch, apparently he had a preference.  Wildlife officials were called and they were able to get rid of the bear, but not all encounters can be as harmless as this one.  Do you know what to do if you encounter a bear in the wild? Here are a few tips on what you should do.

    The first thing you should know about bears is how to identify what type you are dealing with. It can make the difference on how you react to an encounter.

                    Grizzlies are most commonly a medium to dark brown in color. They have long hair with lighter tips, giving it that “grizzled” appearance.  They are typically larger in size than the black bear and stand taller, up to 6.5 feet tall.  They have a distinct hump on their shoulders due to their large muscle mass used for digging and fishing for food.  Their ears are shorter and more rounded than the black bear and leave behind larger paw prints.

                    Black bears can vary in color, from light blonde to black. In the west they are a cinnamon color. They have light patch of fur on their chest and a lighter colored snout.  Black bears are smaller in size, standing up to about 5 feet or less.  Their ears are larger and more pointed and have smaller, wider paw prints than the grizzly.

    Once you know how to identify them, what do you do if you encounter one in the wild?  Encounters can be calm and thrilling but can turn scary very quickly. Here are a few situations and what to do if you find yourself face to face with a bear.

                    If you encounter a bear that has not realized you are there yet, slowly back away and find a wider, alternate route so as not to disturb or aggravate the bear. 

                    If you come across a bear and they notice you but is still a good distance away (350ft) speak calmly so the bear can identify you as a human.  Speaking calmly will let it know you are there but do not want to harm it.  Once the bear recognizes you, slowly back away keeping your eye on the bear at all times.  Back track upwind so the bear keeps your scent and keep talking calmly.

                    If you encounter a bear and it is showing signs of aggression, first identify the type of bear you are dealing with and if there are any cubs around they may be protecting.  If a bear feels that it needs to defend its cubs they can become aggressive quickly.  The most important thing is DO NOT RUN!!! You cannot outrun a bear no matter what people tell you.  They are stronger and faster and will catch up with you.  Try speaking calmly and backing up slowly and don’t make eye contact.  Know where the bear is at all times though so you can react accordingly. If you have time, find a nearby tree to climb and get at least 33 feet in the air.  Both black and grizzly bears can climb up to about 30 feet so if you can get high enough out of reach it’s the best chance to get away. The hope is that the bear will feel less threatened while you are retreating up a tree.

                    If a bear does end up charging at you, use bear spray or pepper spray to try and divert the attack.  Spray them directly in the eyes, downwind if you can so that it doesn’t come back at your face and leave you incapacitated as well.  Get away as soon as you can once you’ve sprayed the bear and dump the canister.  The scent of the pepper spray can potentially lead the bear back to you.

                    In the chance that the bear does attack you, remember this: Black bears are more timid so you can fight back with anything you have available.  Once you start defending yourself they may get scared and back off.  Grizzly bears however will attack no matter what.  Your best bet is to stay on your feet as long as you can to avoid the charge.  Leave your backpack on in hopes of providing a barrier for extra protection.  Then play dead, this reduces your risk of injury during the attack.  Once the bear thinks you are dead, it will lose interest and move on. 

    Hopefully any bear encounters you have will not come to this last and terrifying stage but if  it does, at least now you will hopefully have a better idea of how to handle the situation.  The best and most important thing you can do is prepare.  For more information on how to keep bears away from your campsite and other useful tips visit




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