Safety Tips When Running Into Bears in the Wild

Safety Tips When Running Into Bears in the Wild

October 1, 2020

Do you know how to stay safe if you run into bears in the wild in Alaska? Most people are frightened when accidentally encountering a bear, but bear encounters rarely turn aggressive. If you follow these tips, you’ll come away from your experience safely—and perhaps with a greater respect for the wonders of nature:

  • Avoid whenever possible: Bears usually try to avoid humans as much as possible, so make sure to give bears their space. Don’t approach them in the wild, even to take a photo (no matter how cute they are).
  • Stay calm and stick with your group: The best way to avoid bear encounters in the first place is to stick with your group and make plenty of noise as you walk through the bear habitat. This helps ensure that they’re not surprised by your appearance and won’t act defensively. Remember, they want to avoid humans too, so giving them some warning is helpful. Stay calm and talk or sing.
  • Figure out what kind of bear you’re dealing with: Learn the differences between black bears and grizzly bears, which behave very differently.
  • Look for cubs: If you see adult bears nearby, try to ascertain whether there are cubs. Adult bears are particularly protective of their young and will be more aggressive if they think you’re a threat.
  • Help the bear escape: If you’re dealing with a black bear, you may be able to move it out of the area. Make sure they have an escape route without obstacles or people blocking their path. Stand tall, wave your arms and yell in a calm voice to get out of there (or whatever comes to mind—the tone is more important than the content). Keep bear spray at the ready in case the encounter becomes aggressive.
  • Stay calm and stand still: Sometimes bears are surprised by your presence and act defensively. This is usually an attempt to warn you off, so stand still, talk in a calm, firm voice and back away slowly. (Don’t run.) If the bear is about to make contact, use your bear spray.
  • Play dead if a bear makes contact or it’s a grizzly with cubs: If you surprise a bear and they make physical contact, or if you come across a grizzly bear with cubs nearby who makes physical contact, drop to the ground on your stomach to play dead. Cover your neck and head with your arms, keeping your elbows and legs wide—this will prevent the bear from turning you over. Do not move until you are absolutely certain the bear is gone.
  • Repelling an aggressive bear: Try to get out of the way. If the bear follows, stand tall, act aggressively and yell in a firm voice to signal you’ll fight back. If the bear persists, use your bear spray, kick, punch, hit and use whatever weapons are available to protect yourself.

Ready to explore the wilderness, now that you know what to do if you run into a bear in the wilds of Alaska? Book a salmon fishing trip with Phantom Tri-River Charters today.

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