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Save Yourself From A Bear Attack

Updated on April 12, 2012

Spring and summer are the times when many people look forward to a holiday of hiking, camping, and fishing. When they do so, they are leaving the safety of their homes and venturing into territory, that bears and other animals consider their own. As you make your plans and pack your bags, take time to consider all your many needs, and not just things for your personal comfort. You will also want to have a plan for protecting yourself and your family as you enter the home of the bear.

Bears are large powerful animals, weighing from four hundred to over fifteen hundred pounds. They may seem, at times, to ramble about, but when aroused, they can run at speeds up to forty miles per hour, and maintain this speed both down and up hill. Never run from a bear. Firstly, they are faster than you are, and secondly, the mere sight of something running, will cause them to give chase. And don't take heart in the fact that you are a good climber. It is true that adult bears, prefer not to climb because of their great weight, but if provoked, they will hustle up that tree faster than you can imagine. If the tree is small, they will not even bother to climb, but will merely use their great strength to shake the tree until their prey (you) come tumbling down.

Polar bears are the only bear that actively hunts man for food. Other bears do not hunt man, but given the right circumstances, they will attack. Bears are most likely to attack if you startle them, and when they are protecting a kill. Bears who have become accustomed to human food, or have previously tasted human flesh, are also likely to attack. Female bears will always attack if you get between them and their young. And then there are rogue bears who attack for no discernible reason.

Bearing in mind when bears are most likely to attack gives us clues as to how to protect ourselves. Given the choice virtually all bears would prefer not to encounter humans at all, but, by choosing to invade their territory, we don't give them this choice. Here are some ways to stay safe when in bear territory.

If you hear of any bear attacks or even any bear sightings, stay out of that area. Whenever you are walking in the woods, make lots of noise. Erratic noises are best. You can carry a can of pebbles, but vary the rattling. Talking or singing are good, taking care to raise and lower your voice. Bears have exceptional hearing, so given the chance, they will leave the area without you realizing they were ever there.

If you are camping, store all your food in your car. Bears have an exceptional sense of smell. Don't tempt them. Make sure you do not have any food spills on your clothing when you sleep. Clean up your refuse and take it with you when you leave the area. If you encounter a dead animal, move away from it quickly. Be cautious around berry patches or streams, where bears are known to fish. If you do see a bear, keep your eye on it, but don't stare. Back away slowly and leave the area immediately.

Never take your pet dog camping or hiking. Your dog may initially chase a bear, but the bear will soon turn, and the dog will inevitably run back to you for protection, bringing the bear right along with it.

If you see a cub, back up slowly and leave the area immediately.

Never, under any condition, feed bears.

Take bear spray with you hiking and camping. Keep it handy and know how and when to use it. For a bear spray to be effective, you must have quick reflexes, a steady hand, self-control - the spray only reaches a few feet - and good aim.

Remember bears are stronger and faster than humans. Humans, on the other hand, are smarter, so think ahead, and act wisely, even if that means a radical change of plans.

Hopefully, you will never be attacked a bear, but every year, more and more people are. We have left our garbage around, which attracts bears and helps them lose their natural fear of humans. We have built highways and cities over where once were their homes and hunting grounds. Every year, bears along with other animals, are losing their natural habitat. It is only natural that some will fight back.

In the event that you are attacked, you life may be at stake. Different experts advise different methods of defense. Some people have survived bear attacks by playing dead, either by lying flat on their face with the hands protecting the head, or curled in the fetal position, again with the hands over the head. You cannot make any movement whatsoever, and you cannot scream. Many of these people have been horribly mauled, but they have survived.

Some theorize that this method works best with grizzly bears, who are more likely to roll you about and play with you for a while, then leave you alone. I do not know if there is any solid proof of this theory.

Others theorize that if you stay perfectly still and do not stare at the bear, it will not attack.

Irregardless, if you are attacked by a bear, you will be in the fight of your life, which you may or may not survive. If you think ahead, prepare and act wisely, you have a very good chance of returning home with nothing but happy memories.

Scars from a bear attack.
Scars from a bear attack.

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    • billips profile imageAUTHOR

      billips 

      6 years ago from Central Texas

      Hi Teaches12345 - thank you for reading and commenting - I have heard of the practice of hanging the food in trees - the only problem being that bears can smell the food and will hang around the area - but, it certainly is better than keeping it around the campsite - Florida certainly does get its share of non-indigenous species - regards - B.

    • billips profile imageAUTHOR

      billips 

      6 years ago from Central Texas

      You are right Moonlake - black bears are potentially just as dangerous as any other bear, except of course the polar bear - there have been several dozen recorded fatal black bear attacks - it is foolish to be complacent about such a powerful animal, beautiful as they may be - thank you for taking the time to read and comment on this article - B.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      We do have some bears here in South Florida, which is surprising. I am glad I have not seen one as of yet. I camper once told me that he would hang his food from a tree branch so that it was away from him and his car. Also, as you mentioned, he would change his clothing before bedding down, just in case there was a food smell on them -- also hung in high in the tree. This hub was a very interesting read and provides valuable information to campers. So sorry for the gentleman who was attacked. Voted up!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 

      6 years ago from America

      We have to worry about walking into bears everyday that we walk out the door. Ours are black bears and so many people never worry about them. They have this idea that black bears won't attack, not true.

      They are beautiful but they are very dangerous.

      voted up...

    • billips profile imageAUTHOR

      billips 

      6 years ago from Central Texas

      Hi SGBrown - thank you so much for your kind remarks - for many years I lived on the border of bear country, hiking and camping there - I never lost a bit of that terror I first felt when, one evening, I was heading back to our camping site with my young son far ahead - through the trees I glimpsed a large bear at out camp table - I guess I acted appropriately, if shakily - the memory still gives me chills - hope this helps some people - regards, B.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 

      6 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Excellent hub! This is really good information. I have heard some of these tips before. I have never been in bear country, but am planning to start traveling soon. I will definately be keeping this information in mind. Very important information, I'm glad you shared the information with us. Voted up, useful and socially sharing! Have a wonderful day! :)

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