Bear attacks are one of the most hyped and overrated fears when it comes to camping. The chances of being attacked by a bear while camping are very slim. It would really have to be very bad luck to be attacked.
Bears are as afraid to be around you as you are to be around them. So unless you plan on approaching a bear or fail in taking wise precautions, your chances of being attacked by a bear are extremely low.
And while the chances of being disturbed by a bear during your time in the wilderness are low, it never hurts to take precautions and follow some safety protocols to dismiss any dangerous bear encounters.
Important: This is general information for education and entertainment purposes only. Consult your local wildlife authority for the right advice for your situation and locality.
Are Bears Really A Threat To Campers?
Bears by nature don’t have any particular desire to hunt humans. Like any other animal, they are looking for food.
So while you are out camping with your friends, just be sure you don’t bring any smelly food near your campsite where you have your tents set up for the night.
It’s important to remember that if you do come across a bear, there is a good chance that it’s just hungry and probably wants a piece of whatever you are having for supper.
This is especially important to keep in mind if you’re camping in bear-prone states like Maine.
Bears, especially mother bears, have a strong instinct to protect their little ones. But even they won’t attack you unless they feel threatened or feel any harm coming towards their cubs. So even if you do encounter a bear, ensure that you don’t fall in between them and their cubs.
Are Bear Attacks Common?
Bear attacks are extremely rare. According to a study held in 2011, barely 60 people have succumbed to black bear fatalities in the United States and Canada from 1990 to 2009.
Another study published in 2019 in Nature stated that there were 183 grizzly bear attacks in North America in the time period of 2000 and 2015. Out of which, the majority of the cases were found in Alaska, British Columbia, and the Yukon.
Any fatality through a bear attack is a rare tragedy.
And while the figures may show that bear attacks are not that common, they do happen. And that’s the very reason campers need to adhere to certain safety protocols against bear attacks to avoid those rare incidents.
How To Keep Bears Away When Camping?
Unless you give them a reason to approach, bears are pretty happy with their own lives in the wilderness. However, for your own good sake, it’s best to keep them at bay.
The best way for that is to be extremely cautious with the food since bears generally come out looking for food. Following are some safety measures to ensure you do not attract any bears to your campsite.
1. Don’t Leave Food Unattended
Make sure your food is kept stored in a bear proof lockbox day and night. You can use bear hangs provided by campsites or keep your food safely locked in your trunk.
If you’re in the backcountry, store your food up a tree at least 200 yards away from where you are camping.
2. Do Your Cooking At A Safe Distance From The Camp
Wildlife including bears are majorly attracted by the odor of the food. One of the first rules to follow is to keep your activities like cooking food and washing dishes well away from the campsite.
This allows you to avoid bringing an odor back to the tents.
3. Use Unscented Dishwasher Liquids
The key to avoiding a bear attack is to avoid bringing back any smell to the campsite. An unscented dishwasher liquid goes a long way in avoiding any unwanted visitors to your site.
One of the common mistakes among campers is missing the details like leaving small waste unattended. Use a strainer to get all of the food particles out of the water after washing the dishes. Make sure that you store the residue tightly in a trash bag far from camp, and pack out any trash you bring in.
How To Handle A Bear Encounter?
No matter how much you adhere to the safety measures and precautions, it’s always smart to be prepared for the worst.
So even if the odds are with you and statistics seem promising, it is best to keep some tips to deal with a bear encounter up your sleeves. Following are some useful tips to keep in mind if you are ever confronted by a bear.
- Don’t approach a bear.
- Be extremely distanced from cubs. Mother bears have a natural protective instinct for their cubs and are known to attack without much warning.
- If you are camping with a group, stay as a group to seem more powering and imposing.
- In a scenario where you have spotted a bear and it hasn’t seen you, back away slowly while keeping an eye on the bear.
- Keep any tools like a bear spray at the ready while you analyze the situation and your next step.
- Lastly and one of the most important tips, learn to use bear spray and when it’s time to deploy it before heading out into bear county.
Here’s a trainer on how to use bear spray
o(This is not our video and we are not affiliated with the video producers – it’s provided here for educational and general entertainment purposes only).
Hiking, camping, and nature watching are some of the most beloved and common activities across America. However, wildlife is unpredictable and bears are known to charge. Hence, it’s always important to be prepared.
Bears attacks, although uncommon, need extreme caution and attention. It’s never worth risking your life or someone else’s. Keeping food and odor away from your campsite is one of the most important steps against bears. While they don’t exactly come looking to attack you, they look for food. Simple safety protocols like storing food far from your campsite (or in your car) go a long way in preventing any mishappenings in the wild.
Steering clear of any bear and especially their cubs is a crucial step as mother bears have a strong and unpredictable (generally without any warning) instinct of attacking anyone in close proximity to their cubs. However, despite every safety measure and precaution, be prepared and alert at all times.
I am the founder and owner of Fauna Facts. My mission is to write valuable and entertaining information about animals and pets for my audience. I hope you enjoy the site!