Okay, first things first. You might have this question in mind – do bears actually attack people? The answer is yes, and no. Like any other creature of the wilderness, bears won’t attack you unless you attack/disturb them. There’s a slim chance of them marking and attacking you as a prey, but that’s highly unlikely to happen. What we’re trying to say here is if you don’t startle/disturb a bear, it won’t attack you. But the alarming news is, incidents related to bear attacks are increasing every year due to several reasons. Bears have been moving to inland almost everywhere including the arctic. That is due to the shortage of food and habitat, thanks to our aggressive hunting and deforestation activities. Additionally, people are now traveling to deep forests and national parks a lot, which brings them closer to bear territories and increases the chance of an encounter. When a bear sees a person, several times, it just passes by or ignores him/her. But if the bear sees you as a threat or prey, then a confrontation is imminent. It’s happening far too often nowadays, with the increase of the reported bear attacks. So, awareness and preparation beforehand are necessary for all of us. So, let’s start this guide on how to survive a bear attack with the most vital and practical step we can take – prevention.
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Prepare and Avoid it
When in the wilderness, preparation is key. You should always be prepared for mishaps and work toward preventing it. You should also make your action plan if you somehow miss to prevent it, and eventually, the encounter happens anyway. You can prepare yourself for a bear encounter/attack by following the steps given below:
1. Try to move in groups: The more people you have alongside, the more secure you will be. Bears never attack people in groups.
2. Make sounds and noise:Let the bear know your presence so that it doesn’t get startled. It should only happen when you are bound to confront each other. Try to leverage the number of people in your group. Let the bear feel that so it leaves you alone.
3. Pack a bear spray with you: Bear spray is a non-lethal deterrent to stop the lethal action of a bear immediately. It uses Capsicum derivatives to temporarily decrease the bear’s visual and olfactory sense and the ability to breathe for a while. That ensures your time to move to a safe place. It significantly reduces human injuries caused by bears and also the risk of the bear getting killed in self-defense. Bear spray never leads to the death of the bear, so it’s obviously better than guns or other lethal weapons. You should also learn to use it properly. Practice beforehand, so you don’t get into any trouble when a crisis arises.
4. Be cautious about food: Bears have a heightened sense of smell. It can detect the smell of leftovers or crumbs of food you eat. So, try not to leave any of those while eating. Don’t leave your extra food wide in the open. Store them in a Tupperware or container. The best practice is to eat far away from your campsite, which reduces risks to the minimal.
5. Watch out: Keep an eye out for excrements, dead carcasses, or anything that warns you of a bear nearby. You should be extra careful when you are nearby a known bear territory. If you see cubs, be sure that the mother is nearby keeping an eye out to protect her baby. Be aware not to disturb it in any way.
6. Leave your inner Sherlock Holmes at home: Don’t roam around inspecting rustling bushes. That increases your chance of confrontation.
7. Leave your pets at home: It’s a bad idea to bring your pet to a trek or adventurous camping. Pets like dogs can pose as prey to bears. They can lure the bear to you as well. If you do, bring your pet, keep your control on it with precaution.
8. Make a durable shelter: When you are nearby a known bear country, forget about sleeping bags. Make shelters that can withstand a possible bear attack, though the chance of this happening is very slim.
Lastly, and I can’t stress this enough, learn to avoid it. Keep in mind; you are entering the bear’s territory. So, it will try to ensure you don’t pose a threat or disturb it. Leaving it alone is your best bet against a bear attack. But the question remains – how to survive a bear attack when it’s beyond the point of prevention? In that case, you must prepare for the worst and make a plan to try your best to survive. The preparation for a confrontation with a bear starts with knowing your enemy first.
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Know Your Bears!
Some people tend to classify bears into two species. One is white polar bears, and the other is “non-white non-polar” bears. In reality, there are currently eight major species of bears roaming all over the world. The common species among them are listed below with details on how to defend yourself against them.
This species of bears is famously known as grizzly bears. They are quite common as a species — found throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. They’re big in size and violent than most other bear species. Their brown color, along with their size and a hump in the back, is a dead giveaway of brown bears.
Conflicts with grizzlies have been rising for some time now, especially in grizzly bear countries. No matter what caused them, preparation is a must. So, here goes a few points to remember if you fail to avoid a grizzly bear and confront it eventually:
- Use your bear spray: When it comes to fighting back, this is your best bet against the big guy. Just aim and spray.
- Don’t try to be stealthy: If you think you can outsmart it by sneaking out, you are wrong, as history suggests with the bear attack cases. Instead, let it know your presence by acting normal and confident.
- Don’t even think of running: Grizzlies are so fast that outrunning them would be practically impossible. Moreover, running will make them suspect you more as a threat and attack you.
- Lay on the ground: It’s the best defensive strategy against brown, or any other type of bear. If it starts charging, lie down. Try to protect your stomach and neck as much as you can. Minimize your movement the lowest even if you are hurt or in great pain.
- Act like a dead person: It’s a good strategy against a grizzly attack. Faking your death will assure it that you won’t cause any harm. Stay in the ground for a while to make sure it left.
- Aim for the nose or eyes: If you do plan to put up a fight, do it properly. Remember, this should be your last resort as they are stronger than you in every aspect.
They are mostly seen in Asia and America. While they are smaller than grizzlies, they are far better at running and climbing trees. Black bears rarely attack or fight. Their instinct is always to flee the scene. However, nothing is certain. So, when you encounter a black bear, try to remember these:
- Make your stand- If you establish yourself to be larger and more aggressive than the bear, it’ll immediately leave you alone. Try to shout at it while slowly moving your arm.
- Don’t run or climb- Black bears are better than you in both.
- Use the spray. Just like grizzly bears, black bears can be fought easily with bear spray.
- Again, aim for the nose or eyes- If attacking it back is your ultimate plan, then do it right.
They are the largest carnivores of this planet. Their primary food is seals and fishes, which are high in protein. But the problem with polar bears is, they are not accustomed to seeing men. So, they see us as prey. If you happen to cross path with it, you are in grave danger and must follow these rules:
- Try not to act like prey- You can’t run away from it, as it will outrun you in the ice. So, remain calm and stand your ground.
- Utilize your bear spray- It’s still the best bet just like other bears. Just make sure the wind doesn’t get in the way as you may not get another chance at it.
- Don’t play dead- You are prey in its eyes. So, playing dead only makes things easy for them.
That concludes today’s guide on how to survive a bear attack. We, as well as bears, are all children of Mother Nature. So, always try non-violent ways to live your life. Let bears and other animals live in peace in their habitat when you travel. In case of emergencies and unfortunate turn of events, make the best out of this guide and act appropriately. Happy traveling!