Spring has come and now it is getting closer to summer, do we know what that entails? Bears are venturing out of their dens or are already out and about! To avoid a bear attack, you need to be bear-aware and look for bear signs! Most bears are shy, elusive, and try to avoid humans. Attacks usually happen when a bear has been eating garbage, hand-fed, or approached. There are two types of encounters: the surprise encounter and the predatory encounter.
A surprise encounter happens when you startle a bear. If this happens it does not matter the species of the bear, stay calm, stand your ground, be big and loud, let them know your human, and/or move away slowly but never turn your back to them. If the bear follows, STOP immediately. DON’T RUN! Bears can run 30 mph; an Olympic sprinter can’t run that fast! Don’t try to climb trees; bears can climb faster than you.
A predatory encounter happens when bears are foraging. It’s recommended that if you encounter a black bear this way to fight back as aggressively as possible: yell, scream and do what’s needed to escape. Black bears will “bluff charge,” this is when they run fast toward you and, at the last minute, dart off in the other direction. If this happens, stand your ground; if you start to run, there’s a higher chance they will see you as a threat. If you are encountering a brown bear this way to play dead. If they attack lay on your stomach to cover your vital organs with your hands covering your neck. Do not move until the bear walks away. Most of the time they will leave you alone!
If you’re going hiking, know your bear country. It’s best to research where you’re going and find out if there are bears. While hiking, watch for suitable bear habitat: thick brush, heavy tree stands, large swaths of flowering plants, and plants that have fruit.
Hike in groups of three or more and make noises, whether that’s talking, whistling, or singing. With more people in your group, the bear will see, hear, and smell you better. Avoid hiking at dawn, dusk, or night; this is when bears are most active. It’s not recommended to bring pets along. Pets can end up antagonizing bears, and attacks are more likely to happen. If you see a bear, stay 100 yards away or further. If you see a bear while in your vehicle, stay in your vehicle and lock the doors.
We have nine bears on-site, five of our bears call Rescue Ridge home while the other four are in the Discovery Area. Bam-Bam, our Grizzly Bear, loves his pool and drowning his 60 lb. toys in the water! Michael, Thunder, and Harley are three black bears that live in the back of the Discovery Area. People confuse Thunder as a brown bear due to his cinnamon coloration, but not all black bears are black, they come in a variety of colors from black, brown, blonde, and even white. Holli, Lolli, Koda G., and Xena are also black bears while Huggy is the oddball, a Russian Brown Bear. Holli, Lolli, Koda G., Xena, and Huggy can all be found down at Rescue Ridge in their large somewhat natural habitat in the back! They love climbing trees and being as wild as they can be!
Being bear-aware is vital for you and the bear. If a bear attacks someone or visits a heavily populated area for food, they will be hunted and killed. It is essential for bears to stay wild and not get comfortable with humans.