It is vital in preventing a bear attack to realize what you are up against. Bears are large powerful animals weighing from four to sixteen hundred pounds. They can run as fast as a horse, both up and down hill, and can climb trees faster than any man. It is true that mature bears and especially grizzlies do not climb much because of their sheer weight, but they certainly can if motivated. If they choose not to climb, they can grasp and shake all but the largest trees until their prey falls. Your chance of getting to a tree before they do is slim at best.
Bears most likely to attack are females protecting their young, especially, if you come between them and their cubs, bears who are surprised, bears protecting a kill, bears who have become used to human food and those that already tasted human flesh. The polar bear is the only bear that actively hunts man, as a food source. In polar bear country, a gun is your only defense.
It is wrong to assume that bears have poor eyesight. They see as well as we do, and their sense of smell is probably the best in all the animal kingdom.
1. Bears also hear well, so your first line of defense when in bear territory, is to let your presence be known. Bears, unless they are rogue bears, in which case you are in real danger, would prefer to be left alone. When hiking, fishing, or camping, warn bears of your presence by making lots of noise. Sing, clap, talk loudly, or make some sort of relatively continuous noise. Other options include bear bells, and pennies in a can tied to your belt.
2. If you hear of any bear sightings, friendly or not, chose another area to hike or fish. Parks and hiking trails post warnings of bears in the area.
3. Never take your dog hiking with you in the woods. When in trouble, dogs run to their owners, which means they are going to bring the bear to you.
4. When camping, store all food, well-wrapped, hanging high up in a tree, or at least locked in your car, far away from your tent. Keep nothing edible in your tent.
5. If possible, do not sleep in the same clothing in which you cook.
6. Take all food refuse home with you.
7. Stay away from any dead animals you find in the woods.
8. Carry bear spray or pepper spray if hiking. Remember that for the spray to be effective, the bear must be only a few feet from your, so you must have steady nerves and good aim.
9. If you live in bear country, keep them away from your house by keeping garbage locked up.
10. If you see a bear, increase the noise you are making, back up slowly and leave the area, watch the bear but do not make direct eye contact. If you are in a vehicle, close the windows, and stay in the vehicle until you are sure the bear is far away.
There is are a variety of suggestions as to how to respond if you are actually attacked. Your best response may depend on the reason for the attack, the type of bear, and your circumstances. Living in bear country, these are the courses of action most commonly found to be successful.
A. Many survivors of bear attacks, have saved their lives, by playing dead. The two best positions are lying on your face with hands on the back of the neck, and curled in a fetal position hugging the knees. I prefer the latter, as the bear may roll you face up when vital organs are more exposed. Remember that playing dead is just that, no movement and no noise. When you are sure the bear has left the area, seek help. You may be badly hurt, but you will probably survive.
B. Some people advise that a normal bear will not attack if you stay still. If however the bear does attack anyway, fight back with everything you have.
C. Never run, make any sudden movements, or scream. some bears bluff attack. Other just attack.
D. Try to remain calm and asses the situation. If you have taken all possible measure to avoid a bear attack, it is not likely that one will ever occur.
Bears did not choose to become our enemies. By destroying vast tracts of their natural habitat, and by leaving our garbage exposed to feed them when they are hungry, we have caused bears to come into populated areas where they may lose their fear of man and become dangerous.