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How to Protect Yourself When You See a Bear


Summertime brings some unusual experiences for the city residents turned country-dwellers. The chances for hikers, climbers, bikers or campers to spot a bear are not as remote as you may believe –and the dangers when coming face to face with one are as real as they come.

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All bears, despite their cumbersome appearance, are powerful animals that can kill humans if they think they or their cubs are being threatened. In the rarest and most frightening cases, a black bear will attack a human as prey. Avoiding an encounter of any sort is of course your best course of action.

Should you meet a bear, the following tips brought to you by PRIME Insurance Agency are based on wildlife resource information.

ABC’s of Bear Safety

a)      If you notice a bear that is not aware of you, attempt to back off,
        steering away from the bear’s path. If leaving the path is not an
        option, draw back until the bear has left the vicinity.

b)      If a bear catches sight of you, but is still far (about 350 feet
         away), let it recognize you as a human that is not intimidating.
         Talk in a calm even tone. Then, if possible, walk slowly backwards
         while continuing to talk calmly and keep your eyes on the bear
         without looking squarely in its eyes. Alternately, you can make a
         detour around the area against the direction of the wind so the
         bear will still be comforted in smelling you as a recognized human.
         In this case, continue to make your presence known by talking
         calmly and swinging your arms.

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c)       After doing the above, weigh your risks:

  • Is there a good distance between you and the bear?
  • Is the bear the black (more deadly) variety or a grizzly?
  • Is the bear alone or are there bear cubs as well?
  • Are there trees that you climb fast enough to use as an escape route?

d)      Don’t try to outrun a bear – even downhill - because bears are
         faster than humans in any situation. Back up while keeping an eye
         on its movements and speaking in a calm tone.

e)      Don’t discard any knapsack that you may need as a protective

f)       If the bear advances and you can move quickly enough, climb any
         high tree in the vicinity. Get as high as you can (experts cite
         aiming for thirty-three ft high). Though bears can climb, it is
         probable that they will give up chase in the instance like this as
         you may no longer be viewed as a threat.

g)      If a bear advances as if in an attack, it oftentimes is in the form of
         a pretense, giving potential victims the opportunity to escape by
         backing off.

h)      If you have pepper spray on hand, use it as a final resort directed
         towards the bear’s eyes. Spray only close enough – about fifteen
         feet from bear - and remember that the wind-factor makes a
        difference on effectiveness as well. The spray should unsettle the
        bear, giving you a chance for getting away.

i)        Should a black bear actually grab you, fight for your life with
          anything at your disposal.

j)        In the case of a grizzly bear, it may be wise to play dead, leaving
          the bear to deduce you are not threatening him or her. Do this

  • Lying on your side as if in a fetal position
  • Then, sliding both legs up to chest and wrapping head within legs.
  • Then, hugging arms tightly about legs

           Or by

  • Lying on stomach, knapsack
  • Then, putting hands under neck for protection

k)      Even when playing dead, prepare to jump to your feet and escape
         if the bear seems ready to attack.

l)        Following the bear attack, wait until you are certain the bear has
          left. Then, locate help as soon as possible.

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This article about bear safety is brought to you by PRIME Insurance as part of its educational blog series.

PRIME Insurance is the heart of intellectual capital. An A++-rated independent agency that has attracted wide-industry recognition, we've been presented with prestigious awards and appointed to do direct business with more than 40 of the top companies. We're the ones that shop the wide network to locate tailored coverage at competitively lowest quotes.

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Summary: Summertime and nature seem to go hand in hand with vacationers traveling to the mountains and wooded areas. With bears a real peril upon confrontation, be prepared with these sound safety tips from Prime Insurance Agency.


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