WON Landing Page OCT 2022

Bear Safety: How To Be Safe Around Bears (A Step By Step Guide)

My minimalist approach is this: Don’t go into bear country without a deterrent and commit to making noise. You can’t outrun them, you can’t outwit them, you can’t out-anything them. You need a way to say to the bear: ‘this far; no farther.'”
– Tom Smith, Bear Biologist

Bear Safety: How To Be Safe Around Bears

This guide has everything you need to know about bear safety.

Bears are beautiful animals, and it’s an exciting experience to see one. But being around a bear can also be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.

When hiking or camping in bear country, there is a number of precautions that you can take to avoid unexpected bear encounters.

And to be prepared to act if you find yourself in one.

We gathered our information through interviewing wildlife experts, reading bear encounter guides, and consulting with the National Park Service information in both the U.S. and Canada.

Ready? Let’s get started…

Bear Safety: How To Be Safe Around Bears


  • Plan your visit to a bear country in advance. Read your park regulations. Leave smelly cosmetics at home. If there are both black bears and grizzlies in the area, learn to distinguish between the two.
  • Carry bear spray where allowed, keep it accessible at all times, and practice using it multiple times before heading out. Bear spray is your best defense against aggressive bears.
  • Avoid bears when hiking by making noise and traveling in a group. Bears are usually afraid of humans and will flee once they hear you coming. Be cautious when moving through noisy areas, such as rivers.
  • Avoid bears when camping by storing your food, trash, and hygiene products in bear caches, and cooking away from your campsite. Camp in designated areas where possible, and follow the leave no trace principle.
  • If you see a bear, NEVER run. Keep talking to the bear in a calm tone while backing off slowly. Keep facing the bear, don’t turn your back to him. Ready your bear spray. Most encounters end at that.
  • If the bear gets within 60 ft. of you, be ready to use your bear spray at a moment’s notice. Follow the guidelines on using the bear spray below. Bear spray has a 92% chance of stopping a bear attack.
  • If a bear approaches your campsite, Do NOT let the bear get to your food.Scare the bear away by shouting and throwing rocks. Use your bear spray if the bear gets too close. It’s usually the timid black bears who approach campsites, so they’re not hard to scare away.
  • If the bear makes contact with you, PLAY DEAD around defensive grizzly bears only. If it’s a black bear attacking you, fight back with everything you have. See the “How To Survive A Bear Attack” section below for more information on what to do.

Continue reading, Bear Safety: How To Be Safe Around Bears from Survivalmag here. Author: Robert Brannon.

  • About The WON

    The Women's Outdoor News, aka The WON, features news, reviews and stories about women who are shooting, hunting, fishing and actively engaging in outdoor adventure. This publication is for women, by women.