bear problems are sometimes posted so be very aware.
camping in bear country you may encounter a bear.
To reduce the chances of bear problems:
Move to another campsite if fresh bear sign is present.
Never have food in your tent.
Use canned and dried foods to minimize food odors.
Store foods out of a bear's reach.
air-tight or bear-proof containers.
Burn waste paper in your campfire.
Remove all garbage and fish remains from camp every evening.
A CLEAN CAMP
LEAVE YOUR TENT OPEN WHEN YOU LEAVE YOUR CAMPSITE.
are naturally curious and may want to look inside your tent. It's no
problem for bears if the tent is closed tight . . .
bears can be very enjoyable. However, having a bear in camp can lead
If a bear comes into camp:
Don't feed it. Scare it away.
Make loud noises, bang pans, yell or use air horns.
Don't be gentle! Chase it away.
Throw rocks or pieces of firewood or use a slingshot.
No nearer than 15 feet from the bear!
If a bear makes threatening sounds, stands upright or bluff charges, you are too close. These actions can be unnerving, however, the bear can almost always be chased away.
repellents containing capsaicin (hot pepper liquid) are available to
discourage bold bears.
A bear will take advantage of any foods available and will attempt to eat anything that resembles food in look, smell or taste. When natural foods such as nuts, meat berries, insects and tender vegetation are scarce, bears search actively for anything to eat. This is when bears most often come in contact with people. When bears find a source of food they will usually return regularly.
Bears and People
Bears and people meet under a variety of circumstances. Most bears are wary of people and will usually leave when encountered. Although seeing a bear can be a memorable experience, some people are frightened when they encounter these animals.
Bears can become a nuisance when they visit homes, resorts, campgrounds and restaurants. Although some bears become used to people, they are still wild animals no matter how "tame" they may appear. People must always be cautious around bears since they may react unpredictably.
The best way to avoid bear problems is to not attract them in the first place.
If you have persistent bear problems or want more information on bears, contact your local DNR Area Wildlife Manager for assistance.
Black, Brown & Grizzly
hikers often wear bells on their boots to warn nearby bears of their presence.
There are Four Subspecies of Bear in North America.
The American black bear is a medium size bear, weighing between 130 and 660 pounds with a total body length of 50 to 75 inches. Though known to attack when provoked, the black generally gives humans a wide berth.
Though usually nocturnal, the Black Bear may be seen at any time, day or night. The Black Bear's walk may appear clumsy, but in its bounding trot it can reach speeds up to 30 mph. This bear is also a powerful swimmer and a well-known climber. It uses trees as a means of escape when in need of protection and the bear can also find food in the trees.
They can be seen at any time of the year if you happen to be in the right place at the right time. This bear is mainly solitary, except briefly during the mating season.
This bear does not have the prominent shoulder hump which characterizes the brown-grizzly.
Although normally black, it is quite common to see chocolate brown, cinnamon brown, gray, pale beige bears or pale blue (known as glacier bears) to white (known as Kermode bears).
A typical black bear has long, lustrous jet-black hair over most of the body from its head down to its tiny tail. On its muzzle and around its eyes, the hair is light-colored. Most black bears have a splash of pure white on their chests. This splash may vary from just a few hairs to an area about a foot across.
In eastern North America, the Black Bear is almost completely black and in the western regions it's color ranges from black to a shiny golden cinnamon, and can even have a white blaze on its chest. In the northwestern region there are even individuals that are almost white!
Unarguably the largest and most dangerous of North American big game, the Alaskan brown bear (Ursus arctos middendorffi) and the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) are recognized as separate species although mammologists generally agree they are one and the same animal. Bear experts admit they are unable to tell the animals apart and classify both under the Latin name Ursus arctos.
Alaskan brown bears are huge, formidable animals that may weigh as much as 1,500 pounds. On all fours the bears stand as much as four and one-half feet at the shoulder and may reach nine feet in length. Most big males weigh between 800 and 1,200 pounds with females averaging between 500 and 800 pounds. Standing erect, some brown bear boars tower over eight feet. Grizzlies are proportionately smaller animals standing three and one-half feet at the shoulder and weighing up to 800 pounds. These bears average six to seven feet in length for males, less for females.
Both browns and grizzlies have dished-in facial profiles and obvious shoulder humps. Each comes in various colors from dark brown to blond. Hair is long and thick and grizzlies commonly have conspicuous silver-tipped guard hairs. Tails are stubby, shorter than the five wickedly curved claws on each forefoot; these are often three to four or more inches long. Claws on the bears' hind feet are considerably shorter. Each adult animal has 42 teeth including four prominent, curved canine teeth, 12 incisors, 16 premolars and 10 molars. Such weaponry, combined with awesome power and surprising speed-and the big animals' naturally aggressive nature-make the big bears a potentially dangerous adversary.
The Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) is the true King of the North, reigning as undisputed ruler of the frigid waters and frozen wastelands at the top of the world.
Polar bears are huge, long-necked, pear-shaped animals with thick, whitish-yellow pelage that blends well in a world of ice and snow. An inches-thick layer of fat beneath the skin serves both as insulation and an energy source. Sloping heads appear small. Ears are short and situated below the crown of the skull. Eyes, nose, lips and claws are black. Adult boars stand four feet at the shoulder and are about eight feet in length. Males average about 1,000 pounds and females are typically smaller and lighter. There are reports of some polar bears weighing in excess of a ton.
Plantigrades, the long-legged bears walk on the entire soles of their feet. Pads are covered with short, insulating hair that also provides traction as the bears walk or run across the ice. There are five toes on each foot and claws are sharp but relatively short. Polar bears walk with a distinctive shuffling gait and are surprisingly quick and agile for such large animals. They can run at speeds over 30 miles per hour and swim tirelessly at speeds conservatively estimated at six miles per hour. The white bears have been sighted at sea swimming strongly more than 100 miles from the nearest landfall. The bears have a total of 42 teeth including four long canines, 12 incisors, 16 premolars and 10 molars.
Camping encounters with wildlife are the exception, not the rule. In a lifetime of sleeping outdoors, I have experienced perhaps a half-dozen incidents, all of which could have been avoided with the exception of a foraging grizzly bear in the arctic. I awakened one night to a rough panting outside our tiny tent. In a panic I found my .44 magnum handgun and ripped it from its holster. Holding a shaking penlight in my mouth, I sat up in my sleeping bag, the gun in both trembling hands, and waited for a certain attack.
Luckily, the bear was merely curious. Finding nothing to eat, he wandered off into the dark, but I was too shook up to sleep anymore that night.
Foraging bears are a constant threat to campers in the backcountry and in many of our national parks. The last time I visited Yellowstone, rangers drove throughout the campground each evening, warning people to put food away. In Glacier National Park a couple of years ago a black bear surprised my wife and me as we hiked along a trail back to our camp. The bruin, more interested in berries than in us, ambled off the path into the woods.
My arctic camping partner and I avoided a confrontation with that curious grizzly because we had taken certain precautions. We prepared and ate supper 50 yards from our tent. We washed dishes, stuffed empty food packaging into Zip-Loc bags, and made doubly certain that no food or food odors lingered in the area. Had trees been available, we would have suspended our mess kits and food supplies on a rope 15 feet above the ground and at least five feet from the tree trunk. We even changed clothes before climbing into our sleeping bags. That left nothing to smell except human beings, and when the bear got a whiff of us, he "woofed" and left camp in a hurry.
"A fed bear is a dead bear" say the posters in our Western national parks. A bear that is rewarded only once by finding food in a campground quickly loses its fear of people. That bear will have to be removed. If it becomes a problem, park personnel will kill the animal.
Many government-run parks provide food lockers in modern campgrounds and food poles or cables in backcountry sites to keep chow away from bears. Auto campers are required to lock all food in the trunks of cars at night and to dispose of trash in bear-proof receptacles provided. Besides these precautions, there are many other things campers can do to avoid a confrontation with a bear.
If you are attacked and have no means of defense, however, the best advice--according to the NPS--is to drop to the ground, assume the fetal position so the knees will protect vital organs, cover your head with your arms, and play dead.
Bears are the largest potential threat to campers in North America.
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