How to avoid a black bear attack
Summer is coming and with it comes long walks in the woods, trips to the cottage and chance encounters with large, black, furry animals with long claws.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has released a long list of how to avoid surprise encounters and what to do if you do have a run in with a black bear. The list is pretty thorough, including a fairly frightening description of what an aggressive black bear would look like.
HowStuffWorks also has a guide on how to survive a grizzly bear attack, but in Canada their populations are concentrated in and near British Columbia, Alberta and the Northwest Territorities. (I do not have a precise map of where grizzly bears live across the country but I am hunting for one.)
I would also like to take this opportunity to remind people who feed black bears or leave garbage out (or anything that reduces a bear's fear of humans) you are ruining summer and nature for the rest of us.
May your smores collapse into your campfire and I hope you have half your blood sucked out this summer by mosquitos and leeches.
To the rest of you, happy camping!
The full text of the ministry's tips are below.
"Bears usually avoid humans. Generally, you won’t see a bear even if one is close by. Remember, you are a visitor in the bear’s home range, so do all you can to avoid encounters.
Make noise as you move through wooded areas, especially in areas where background noise is high, such as near streams and waterfalls. Singing, whistling or talking will alert bears to your presence, giving them a chance to avoid you.
Travel with others if possible.
Be aware of your surroundings:
Do not wear headphones.
Keep an eye out for signs of bears, such as tracks, claw marks on trees, flipped-over rocks or fresh bear droppings.
Consider bringing a whistle, air horn, long-handled axe or bear spray. If you bring bear spray, know how to use it.
Avoid strong fragrances that may cause a bear to be curious; put any food you are carrying in sealed containers in your pack.
If you are out with a dog, control it. Uncontrolled, untrained dogs may actually lead a bear to you.
While berry picking, occasionally scan your surroundings to check for bears, and rise slowly from your crouched position so you don’t startle any nearby bears. They may not recognize you as a human when you are in a crouched position.
If the bear is not paying any attention to you, slowly and quietly back away while watching the bear to make sure it isn’t following you.
Do not approach the bear to get a better look.
If the bear obviously knows you are there, raise your arms to let the bear know you are a human. Make yourself look as big as possible. Speak in a firm but non-threatening voice while looking at the bear and backing away.
Watch the bear to gauge its reaction to you. Generally, the noisier the bear is, the less dangerous it is, providing you don’t approach the bear. If a bear huffs, pops its jaw or stomps its paws on the ground, it wants you to back away and give it space.
If a bear closely approaches you, drop any food you may be carrying and continue backing up.
If the bear continues to approach, stand your ground and stay calm – use your whistle or air horn, speak loudly, stand tall, wave your arms and throw objects.
If a bear keeps advancing and is getting close, be aggressive and continue to stand your ground. Use bear spray and anything else to threaten or distract the bear; bears will often first test to see if it is safe to approach you.
Do not run or climb a tree. Bears can run faster and climb better than you.
If the bear makes contact, fight back with everything you have."
To report a problem bear call 1-866-514-2327.