Be bear aware this camping season | Airdrie Echo
Be bear aware this camping season
By Wes David, The Outdoorsman
Tuesday, May 13, 2014 3:23:34 MDT PM
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May long weekend will kick off the start of the summer camping season.
Campers, motorhomes, fifth wheels and tents will be loading up and heading for their favourite campgrounds from now until the end of the camping season.
Many of these campgrounds are in the boreal forest, foothills and mountains. These areas are also home to grizzly and black bears.
Although bear and people encounters are rare, they are on the incline.
The more and deeper people go into the backcountry the more it increases our chances of bear encounters. That is why even with the modern day luxury with all the comforts of home, it’s still important to keep our campsites clean and all our food stored in sealed containers.
Instead of being bear scared, be respectful, clean and bear aware this camping season.
Although black bears are normally tolerant of people, they are still dangerous, especially under certain circumstances, and they should be treated as dangerous animals at all times.
A sow (female) with cubs is one of those circumstances.
If a sow is startled she will send her cubs up a nearby tree and stand guard at the base of the tree.
If she is really upset, she will begin snapping her teeth together as a warning for you to back off.
Black bears may also do what’s called a bluff charge. They run at you until they are close enough to give you a good scare and then retreat.
In either case, experts say the proper thing to do when you come across a black bear or any bear, is never make eye contact and never turn your back and run.
Running will increase the odds of triggering an attack. Without making eye contact, back away slowly and talk to the bear in a non-threatening tone.
If it’s a sow, she sees you as a threat to her cubs and once you back off and leave the area, she will return to her cubs.
Bears that have become habituated to humans can be very dangerous.
Habituated bears have learned that campgrounds, plus people, equals food.
After cooking, wash pots and pans right away. I like to use paper plates to eat from and burn them in the fire pit immediately after my meal.
Don’t leave food outside, especially overnight. That includes pet food.
If you spent the day fishing, don’t fillet your fish at your campsite.
Keep all your garbage double bagged and sealed, including beverage cans.
Bears have an incredible sense of smell. For example, a bloodhound can smell 300 times better than a human.
A bear can smell seven times better than a bloodhound.
That’s why it’s so important to keep a clean campsite, not only for you, but also for the next happy campers using the site.
Grizzly bears have all the same traits as a black bear, however, they are bigger and can be more aggressive, and are less tolerant then.
In most cases, bears will avoid humans, but if they learn how and where to get an easy meal, like a dirty campsite, they will take advantage of the opportunity.
To avoid startling a bear, make lots of noise when hiking, berry picking, or just out for a walk.
Sing, talk loud, or whistle — whatever it takes to give a bear the heads up that you are coming.
Some extreme hikers and climbers I have talked to carry an air horn and let off a small blast every three to five minutes as they walk along the trails.
If you give a bear advanced notice that you are coming, you will probably never see a bear.
What you can do
When hiking in the backcountry, I recommend carrying bear spray and keep it on your belt or somewhere accessible, not jammed in the bottom of your backpack.
Make lots of noise as you travel. If you come across an animal carcass on a hiking trail go back the way you came from and let the Fish and Wildlife officer or park official know immediately.
If you are tenting in the backcountry, keep your food a minimum of 75 meters away from your tent and hang it as high in a tree as you can and don’t be lazy, get it up there. Keep pets on a leash and your kids close.
I spend a great deal of time each year in the backcountry and I’ve seen, passed by, and avoided lots of bears without incident and every summer thousands of people spend their weekends and holidays in the backcountry without incident.
Just remember the basics. Keep your campsite clean, make lots of noise when hiking, and be aware of your surroundings.
PLEASE DO NOT BE DUMB!! There are tons of things to do while hiking and camping, go have fun, but you must know YOU are in the bears backyard or home!! Always follow what the local ranger tells you, there is good reason why they do tell you, but most of all have a great time out there!!
Posted on May 16, 2014, in The world as i see it as a camper and who loves his country and tagged bear season, bear spray, bears, black bears, boondocking, camping, hiking, outback, outdoors, park rangers, rangers, rving, tents. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.