March 5, 2018 | Barb Huntley

You can run into a bear den at any time. They are all different in makeup and could be around any corner in the woods. Bears can wake up during warm-ups in late winter and early spring, so it is important to know how to respond when you see a bear. It’s time to refresh your bear safety habits before heading on your next outdoor adventure.

1) If the bear appears not to have sensed you, move away without alerting it. Keep your eyes on the bear.

2)If the bear does notice you, face the bear, stand your ground and talk to it calmly. Let the bear know you are human. Talk in a normal voice. Help the bear recognize you. Try to appear larger by standing close to others in your group or wave your arms slowly above your head. Try to back away slowly, but if the bear follows, stop and hold your ground. Prepare your deterrent if you have one.

3)If a bear cannot tell what you are, it may come closer or stand on its hind legs to get a better look or smell. A standing bear is usually curious, not threatening.

4)If you take the above actions and the bear continues to focus on you or approach, you should become more assertive: raise your voice, beat on pans, use noisemakers, throw rocks or sticks. Use your deterrent if you have one. Drive a bear off rather than let it follow you. If you are with others, group together to look big and stand your ground.

Coming off a long winter’s sleep bears will be hungry (could you blame them, when’s the last time you went more than a few hours without food?!) It is essential to keep your garage secure, so you aren’t attracting bears to your home for daily snacks. If you are out camping make sure your food is in bear proof containers, away from your campsite. This applies to camping all year round. You never know what animal will be seeking out food, so you want to keep your food far from where you sleep.

While bears do not pose a huge threat this time of year, you’ll never regret being extra prepared in case of an encounter!

**This information was taken from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. 



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