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Ep. 109 Safety While Adventuring in Bear Country

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Would you know what to do if you encountered a bear in the outdoors? Would you know the difference between a defensive or predatory encounter? We are here to help keep you educated, so you can explore safely!

Disclaimer that the information we’re provided you today, as well as the information from Bear Safety & More Inc and RecSafe with Wildlife (as we partnered with Kim Titchener), cannot guarantee that animal encounters can be prevented. This information is intended as a guide to help reduce the likelihood of an encounter and provide education in the occurrence of an encounter.  

What to Know: 

  • Animals are around us
  • Best way to reduce encounters is to be prepared
  • Attacks are extremely rare
  • Don’t let your kids explore farther than an arm’s length from you
  • Keep your dog on a leash at all times
  • Be loud!
  • Travel in groups of 4 or more
  • Pay attention to your surroundings (droppings, tracks, dens, torn up tress and logs, digging, berry bushes)
  • If you spot an animal, leave the area
  • Carry bear spray in a holster on your body and be ready to use it (Scat Belt brand mentioned) – read the instructions and practice pulling it out
  • Take a bear safety course
  • Practice with your kids ahead of time (in a non-scary way)

    If Camping: 

  • Know where to store your food – bear-safe garbage bins, bear locker, or in your vehicle (front country camping) and know if your site has it available
  • Pay attention to your surroundings – garbage, trees/berry bushes/salmon in water, animals that have been feeding, birds of prey

    If You Experience an Encounter: 

*There are two types of bear encounters: Defensive and Non-Defensive (Predatory) encounters.*

Defensive Bear Encounters – caused by surprising a bear at close range, if cubs are present, or if the bear is feeding 

  • Bears are clearly stressed, aggressive, huffing/jaw popping, salivating/foaming, hunched up, showing signs of discomfort
  • They can bluff charge or run in a zig-zag pattern
  • It may be your instinct to yell, act big, and become aggressive too. Please don’t! React by telling the bear you are NOT a threat. De-escalate the situation, back away slowly, talk softly, and prepare your bear spray. If in a group, group up and stay calm. Make your intention to leave the area and not to fight
  • If the bear attacks, the number one reaction from you is to deploy bear spray. If that’s not possible, lie face down and protect your neck, spread your legs (to brace yourself into the ground), and play dead. Wait until the bear is gone before getting up! Make sure once you begin to move again you know which direction the bear has travelled to avoid another encounter
  • Most defensive attacks are short. If it continues to attack and the bear has become predatory, you need to change tactics and begin to fight for your life

Non-Defensive (Predatory) Bear Encounters 

  • This encounter is rare and more common with black bears and solo hikers (95% of grizzly bear encounters are defensive and not predatory!)
  • Bear follows a person, and has a slow, hesitant approach. They can approach confidently, or try to sneak up on you before running towards you and attacking. They appear curious, but this is the situation where they are dangerous!
  • If you’re in a predatory encounter, show aggression right away! Stand your ground and make sure you let the bear know that you are not vulnerable
  • Prepare bear spray and deploy if the bear gets close enough

Please Keep Exploring! All of us at Kids Who Explore have had bear encounters, and thankfully they have all ended well. Talking about it definitely adds to nerves about exploring in bear country, but we know being informed is the best way to be! Remember these encounters are rare, equip yourself with the knowledge and gear you need to stay safe! 


Thank you to Mounts Store for supporting today’s podcast! to check them out.

Today’s Host: @laurenrodycheberle from @kidswhoexplore
Production: @kpmediaproductions. Music: @michaelferraro_music