Being Bear Aware
Black bears in the park are wild, and their behavior is sometimes unpredictable. Although extremely rare, attacks on humans have occurred, inflicting serious injuries and death. Treat all bear encounters with extreme caution and follow these guidelines:
Encounters Along the Trail
Remain watchful. If you see a bear in the distance, do not approach it. If your presence causes the bear to change its behavior (stops feeding, changes its travel direction, watches you, etc.) – YOU’RE TOO CLOSE.
Being too close may also promote aggressive behavior from the bear, such as running toward you, making loud noises or swatting the ground. The bear is demanding more space. Don’t run, but slowly back away watching the bear. Try to increase the distance between you and the bear. The bear will probably do the same.
If a bear persistently follows or approaches you, typically without vocalizing or paw swatting, try changing your direction. If the bear continues to follow you, stand your ground. If the bear gets closer, begin talking loudly or shouting at it. Act aggressively and try to intimidate the bear.
If you have companions, act together as a group. Make yourselves look as large as possible (for example, move to higher ground). Throw non-food objects such as rocks at the bear. Use a deterrent such as a stout stick if you have one. Don’t run, and don’t turn away from the bear.
Don’t leave food for the bear; this encourages further problems. Most injuries from black bear attacks are minor and result from a bear attempting to get at people’s food. If the bear’s behavior indicates that it is after your food and you’re physically attacked, separate yourself from the food and slowly back away.
If the bear shows no interest in your food and you’re physically attacked, fight back aggressively with any available object — the bear may consider you as prey! Help protect others and report all bear incidents to a park ranger immediately! Above all, keep your distance from bears!
Encounters in Camp
The best way to avoid bears is not to attract them. Keep cooking and sleeping areas separate. Keep tents and sleeping bags free of food odors; do not store food, garbage or other attractants (i.e., toothpaste, soap, etc.) in them.
A clean camp is essential to reducing problems. Pack out all food and litter; don’t bury it or try to burn anything. Proper food storage is required by regulation. Secure all food and other attractants at night or when not in use. Where food storage devices are present, use them. Otherwise, place all odorous items in your pack.
Select two trees 10-20 feet apart with limbs 15 feet high. Using a rock as weight, toss a rope over a limb on the first tree and tie one end to the pack. Repeat this process with the second tree. Raise the pack about 6 feet via the first rope and tie it off. Then, pull the second rope until the pack is up at least 10-feet high and evenly spaced. It must be 4 feet or more from the nearest limb.
Garbage Kills Bears!