Bears

The following items may attract a bear to your campsite; ensure they are all properly stored: food, coolers, beverage containers (pop cans, beer baffles), garbage, pet food/dishes, B-BQ grease, bird seed, oil/fat, fish and fish offal, perfumed items,(soap, deodorant, toothpaste, sun tan lotion, insect spray, hair spray, etc.) wastewater from cooking or doing dishes, tablecloths, pots, dishes, cups, etc. plastic containers, even if they are not used for food storage.

Serviced Campground
  • Bear-proof your food! Become familiar with "attractants."
  • Never leave these items unattended and store them in a vehicle or hard-sided trailer when not in use. Remember that hard-top/tent trailers are not bear-proof.
  • Never cook in, or near, your tent or tent-trailer. Dispose of wastewater from cooking or doing dishes in washrooms or at a dumping station, Clean up promptly after meals.
Back Country
  • Bear-proof your food! Store all food and other attractants in bear-resistant food-storage facilities where provided, or suspend them between two trees (minimum of four metres off the ground and one metre from tree trunks).
  • Bear-proof/air-tight food containers are an option if tree storage is unavailable; avoid smelly foods (use dried or prepackaged food instead); plan meals carefully to reduce leftovers; store all dishes and pots with food.
  • Keep your sleeping gear and tent free of food odours; never cook in or near the tent as lingering food odours are an invitation to bears.
  • Store the clothing you cooked in with your food in air-tight bags or containers. Keep tent pads clean and free of food and garbage. If possible, cook at least 100 meters (approximately one football field) downwind from your sleeping area.
  • Stash your trash! Garbage should be placed in the park's bear-proof garbage containers. If you store garbage at your site, keep it in a vehicle or hard-sided trailer. Keep your camping equipment, tent and tent-trailer clean and free of food odours.
  • Dispose of wastewater from cooking or doing dishes in a well -drained area down slope from your campsite and not near fresh water.
  • Dispose of fish offal (remains) in a fast-moving stream or in the deep part of a lake; never along stream sides or lake shores.
  • Pack all garbage back out of wilderness areas. Do not bury garbage as bears can easily locate and dig it out! If food scraps are burnt, pack out all unburned portions. Store garbage with food in air-tight bags or containers.
  • Use a flashlight at night, it will help reduce the likelihood of surprising a bear and may warn wildlife away.
  • Select an appropriate campsite. Use designated sites when available. In random camping areas, pick a spot away from berry patches, animal and walking trails, and the sound of rushing water. Camp in open areas or near large, sparsely branched trees that can be climbed if necessary. Watch for bear signs; if present, choose another area to camp in.
Avoid a Bear Encounter
  • Do not surprise a black bear.
  • Hike in a group. Most bears will leave the area if they are aware of your presence.
  • Stay on established trails and hike only in daylight.
  • Keep children close at hand and within sight.
  • Use extra caution when travelling near rushing water or into the wind. A bear may not be able to hear or smell you coming. Be alert! Watch for signs. Tracks, droppings, diggings, torn-up logs and scratched trees may indicate that a bear is nearby.
  • Use caution when travelling near natural bear foods. Berries, fish and carrion (dead animals) are all food sources for bears, which they may defend. If you come upon any of these items, use extra caution; always report the presence of dead animals to park staff.
  • Dog safety. Dogs may infuriate a bear, inciting an attack. Your dog may then run to you with the bear in pursuit! Keep dogs on a leash at all times and never leave them unattended.
  • Watch for cubs. Bears' may become aggressive if they feel their young are threatened. Never pass between a mother and her cub(s).
  • Watch for area closures and bear warnings. It is illegal to enter a closed area. Area closures are posted in places where bear activity poses a danger to visitors. Bear warnings are posted in areas when there is bear activity and the chance of an encounter is heightened. Use caution in these areas.
  • Cyclists! Your speed and quietness put you at risk for sudden bear encounters. Slow down through shrubbed areas and when approaching blind corners. Make noise, be alert and always look ahead.
If You Encounter A Bear

Despite taking precautions, you may still encounter a bear. Remember that bears are complex, intelligent animals and no two encounters are alike. There is no single strategy that will work in each situation, but you can minimize your risk by following these guidelines:
Keep calm. Think ahead; your brain is your best defence against a bear attack. Plan how to respond if you encounter a bear.
Don't run. Bears can easily outrun you. By running you may trigger an attack. Make yourself less vulnerable. Pick up small children and stay in a group.
Give the bear space. Back away slowly and talk in a soft voice. Do not approach the bear or make direct eye contact.
Leave the area or make a wide detour. If you cannot leave, wait until the bear moves out of the way and ensure that it has an escape route.
The bear may approach you or rear up on its hind legs. Bears are often curious. If one stands on its hind legs, it is most likely trying to catch your scent; this is not necessarily a sign of aggression. Back away slowly and talk in a soft voice.
Do not drop objects, clothing or food to distract the bear. If the bear receives food, it will have been rewarded for its aggressive behaviour, thereby increasing the likelihood that it will repeat that behaviour again.
Watch for aggressive behaviours. A bear may display aggression by swinging its head from side to side; making vocalizations such as huffs, snorts, whoops, or moans; displaying teeth or claws; jaw popping; swatting at the ground; staring with eye contact; panting; or laying its ears back. These behaviours usually indicate that the bear is stressed, acting defensively and asking for more space. Attacks rarely follow. This is the most common kind of black bear aggressive encounter Black bear attacks are rare! However, if one occurs, there are varying recommended responses depending on the situation. Remember that these are only guidelines and that each encounter is unique.

If An Attack Occurs

Defensive attack:
If you surprise a bear and it responds to defend itself, its young or its food - and contact has been made or is imminent - play dead (lie on your stomach with your legs apart; protect your face, the back of your head and neck with your arms; remain silent; and if wearing a pack, leave it on for protection). Remember: such attacks are rare despite the much more common aggressive displays without contact by black bears, The bear will leave you alone once it believes the threat is passed,

Offensive attack:
This is the most serious and potentially deadly attack a black bear might make! It occurs when a bear appears to stalk or follow you for a period of time and then chooses to attack; or the bear attacks you at night. In this situation, playing dead is not appropriate.
Try to escape to a secure place such as a vehicle or hard-sided camper, Climbing a tree is an option, but remember that black bears can climb trees easily. If you cannot escape and a bear continues its pursuit, react aggressively and try to intimidate the bear.
If this fails, fight back with anything at hand such as bear spray, rocks, sticks, knives or other possible weapons to let the bear know that you are not easy prey, Act as a group
if you are part of one, Don't forget to yell; help may be close by.
Chemical bear repellents/bear sprays contain a derivative of cayenne pepper. When sprayed directly into an animal's face, they cause eye and upper respiratory tract irritation, Although such sprays can be effective when used properly, wind and other circumstances may alter their effect on the animal, Therefore, use them with caution and always follow the manufacturer's directions, Bear sprays do not guarantee your safety.

(SOURCE: Parks Canada)

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