Nervous about hiking and camping in grizzly country? You’re not alone. We talked to Chuck Bartlebaugh of the Be Bear Aware Campaign who has conducted bear avoidance and bear spray training for more than 30 years. He’s traveled extensively across the U.S. and Canada studying bears and helping develop best practices for avoiding dangerous encounters with these awe-inspiring creatures. Here’s Bartebaugh’s five tips for safely navigating bear country.
1. Remember the Golden Rules
Bears just want to be left alone. If you see a bear, let them know you’re there with a non-threatening voice and look for an option to move out of the bear’s travel route.
2. Hike in a Group
Bears are less likely to charge a group than an individual. Don’t let children lag behind or run ahead.
3. Always Carry a Quality Bear Spray
Not all bear sprays are the same. Choose one with at least seven seconds of spray duration and 30-plus feet of spray distance. Counter Assault makes a 10 oz. can that lasts 8 seconds and sprays 40 feet and an 8 oz. can that lasts 7 seconds and sprays 32 feet.
4. Be Prepared to Use your Spray
Everyone in your group should have at least one can of bear spray easily accessible when hiking or camping in bear country. In cold weather, keep the spray in an outer coat pocket to keep it warm and still accessible. Be sure you know how to remove the safety clip.
5. Know How to Use It
Don’t wait to spray. As soon as you’re charged, direct the spray downwards at the front of the bear and keep spraying until the bear diverts its charge. Be ready to re-spray.
Learn more tips at CounterAssault.com/bear-spray.