RECREATING IN BEAR COUNTRY
RECREATING IN BEAR COUNTRY
A beautiful aspect to visiting the Rockies is the accessibility to all the open trails and rivers. When recreating in bear country, be aware of wildlife, markings and terrain that grizzly and black bears enjoy. Read up on tips on how to recreate safely depending on what activity you participate in below.
When recreating in bear country, there are many things that you should be aware of. Being outdoors means being with wildlife. Many people never encounter a bear. But if you do, here's some tips to help when you are recreating.
Hiking in Bear Country:
1) Always carry bear spray. Make sure that you have bear spray and know how to use it. This is your safety net. Please watch this video to learn more about bear spray and the reason for carrying it with you.
2) Always hike in a group. Hiking in a group will decrease your chances of surprising a bear and it decreases your chances of a bear attack. A group of 3 or more hikers is more likely to deter an encounter, and bears will be able to see, hear and smell you more easily.
3) Be alert while on the trail and always be on the lookout for bears. Keep an eye out for fresh tracks, scat, other signs (torn up logs, digging, fresh claw marks on trees) and carcasse in the area.
4) Make noise while hiking. Making noise on the trail can alert a bear to your presence before you have the chance to surprise it. Talk to your hiking buddies and occasionally sing loudly, yell “HEY BEAR!” or clap your hands to let any bears know you’re in the area. Make extra noise when you’re close to loud natural features such as flowing rivers and streams or windy days. Also, make lots of noise when approaching features that might make it difficult for a bear to see you (such as a crest in the trail or a blind corner).
5) Avoid hiking at dawn, dusk and at night. These are the time periods when bears are most active. Bears often forage or hunt during these times.
6) Never approach cubs. Never get between a sow and her cubs. If you find yourself in this situation, slowly and calmly move away from the bears in a non-threatening manner and watch the sow. Be ready to defend yourself if the sow becomes aggressive and have your bear spray ready to deploy.
Mountain Biking in Bear Country:
Bear country is a beautiful place to do any recreating when visiting, traveling and living. If you decide to go out for a ride on your mountain bike, know that you are at a higher risk to have a bear encounter. This is due to the high speed you are moving and the usually quieter noise made when biking.
Here are some safety tips on what to do while riding in bear country.
1) Slow down. Bears often react defensively when they are surprised. There have been instances where bikers have been seriously injured and even killed by bears acting in self-defense when surprised by a biker. Be careful and consider slowing down in areas with poor sight distance (i.e. heavily wooded areas with lots of blind corners). If you are coming around a quick turn, make sure you are yelling "HEY BEAR!" and are slowing down so you do not scare the bear.
2) Carry bear spray. Bikers should carry bear spray in a holster/mount on their person. In a group, all riders should carry bear spray, so if one rider comes across another in trouble, they can take quick action. Bear spray can be used on all animals including cougars.
3) Make noise. Mountain bikers don’t generate much noise, increasing the odds of a surprise encounter with a bear (especially a mother with cubs who may not be able to move them out of the way quickly). Shout periodically. The human voice has been proven to be more effective than a bear bell as bears do not associate bells with humans.
4) Look up. Look ahead and be vigilant. Keep an eye out for bear activity such as tracks, scat and feeding sites.. Do not ride in areas with rich sources of bear food, such as berry patches in late summer. Do not ride with headphones in as it makes you less likely to hear or notice wildlife in the surrounding area.
5) Don’t ride alone. Riding in a group will generate more noise, and you will be more capable of responding to a rider in trouble.
6) Avoid riding at dusk or dawn. Bears are more active at this time, and the likelihood you will encounter a bear increases.
What to do if you encounter a bear while biking:
- • If you find yourself in close quarters with a bear, stop riding and assess the situation.
- • Jump off your bike and hold the bike between you and the bear which makes you look larger in a non-threatening way. When you’re on a bike, you’re moving swiftly and you have less time to react than someone who is walking. This is more likely to provoke a charge from a defensive bear, especially a grizzly bear.
Check out the Bear Encounters page to learn more on how to protect yourself.
This quick video shows how fast bears can run through the area and how quickly they can reach you because they do not have to take the trail. This is why it is very important to slow down around bends and make noise when biking.
Hunting in Bear Country:
When hunting in bear country, your main priority is to get the killed animal out of the area as quickly as possible. The longer the carcass is lying there on the ground, hung up in a hunting camp or in the back of a truck, the more likely it will be discovered by a bear. The sooner the carcass is taken home and to the butcher, the better.
Tips for hunting in bear country:
1) Some bears may move towards the direction of a gunshot because they associate that sound with animal carcasses. They have learned the sounds and know that hunting activity is going on. Make sure to make noise by talking loudly and clapping your hands together, so they know it is a human close by.
2) Carcasses left for a period of time require special precautions. When this happens, be sure to carry a colored, lightweight tarp or space blanket. Put the carcasses insides on the tarp and drop them as far away from the carcass as possible. After you move them, use the tarp to cover the carcass. This will reduce the scent from the gut pile to the carcass. Locate an observation point about 200 yards away from the carcass with a clear line of sight. Before leaving the area, walk to that point and memorize the site.
3) When you return to the site where the carcass is, approach slowly and carefully. This is when you should make a lot of noise by yelling, clapping and whistling repeatedly. You do not want to walk up on a bear or other animals that could have found the carcass. With binoculars, study the area from that observation point and scan the area for any movement. If there is a bear on site or the meat has been covered by a bear with debris and is not salvageable, report the incident to FWP. Hunters who have lost an animal to a bear may be eligible for another license.
4) Do not attempt to scare off or haze a bear that does not leave the carcass when it becomes aware of you. The bear now thinks this is their food and if another predator is in the area, then they become territorial. Leave the site. Learn more about bear encounters here.
5) If you live in bear country, do not hang carcasses behind the house or garage for an extended time. Big game carcasses stored outside should be hung from a pulley attached to a stout 15-foot-long that is at least 25 feet off the ground. Bears have been known to climb trees and stand on objects to get to the attractant.
Click here to notify a FWP bear management specialist of an incident in your area.
camping in Bear Country:
Camping is always a fun spring to fall activity! It's a great way to get outside and be in nature. Even though camping seems easy and fun, you should be aware that you are in bear country.
No matter how many nights you are planning to camp, follow these camping safety tips below.
1) Reduce odors that attract bears. All the food that you bring with you has an odor. The best way to minimize this is to have a cooler such as a Yeti with a lock on it, or a food storage container such as a BearVault. These containers reduce the odor and are difficult for bears to get into. Some campgrounds have bear proof food storage containers that are at the campground. Do some research beforehand to see if this option is provided. Here is a list of bear resistant storage containers that are approved for camping.
2) When you put away your food when going on a hike or going to bed, the best thing to do is take your bear-proof/scent-proof container and hide it in bushes (100m from your tent). Another option is to put the food in airtight containers and then inside two heavy duty black garbage bags and hide that bundle in bushes (100 m from your tent), taking care not to tear the bags while placing and retrieving the bundle.
3) Never take food or drinks (except water) into your tent, not even a snack.
4) Grey water is what is produced after washing your dishes. This water now has food and attractants, so dispose of it properly. Use the designated grey water disposal grates; do not dispose of grey water near a human-use area.
5) Keep your fire pit clean and free of food residue.
What Attracts Bears?
Source: National Park Service
Anything that has an odor or could be considered food may attract wildlife to your site.
- • Coolers – full/empty
- • Food and Condiments
- • Garbage/Wrappings/Plastic Bags
- • Dishes/Pots
- • Pet Food/Bowls
- • Bottles/Cans: full/empty
- • Tablecloths
- • Toiletries/Suntan Lotion/Insect Spray
- • Camp Stoves & Barbecues
- • Containers of Gasoline/Oil
- • ANY items associated with food preparation or clean up (soap, dish clothes, towels, & clothing worn while cooking.
- • Grey Water Pails
Fly Fishing in Bear Country:
Fly Fishing is a very popular activity during the summer months. People like to get outside and travel to different parts of the country to reel in some incredible fish. Usually, Fly Fishing is a sport that takes place in bear country. Since the rivers and streams can be hidden at times in a quiet area in the forest, follow these safety tips:
1) Always try to go fishing in a group. Make sure you have people with you in case of an emergency.
2) Make noise while fishing. Talk loud and play music. You are in an area that bears love, so be aware of your surroundings.
3) Don’t Spread Out. If you’re in a group or even if it’s just you and your buddy, it’s important to not spread out too much when covering ground. Sometimes a bear can get chased off by people in one spot, only to be forced toward other folks in another spot, leading to a potentially dangerous situation.
4) Have bear spray on you. There is a lot of gear when you are fly fishing, but the most important thing to have on you is bear spray. Do not have it in a bag that is far away, make sure it is either in front of you or on your back side so in a moment's notice you have it ready.
Here is a great article by Filson that has some tips from a local fly fisherman.
HEY BEAR COTOPAXI BATAC 16L DAY PACK
Originally designed to pair with larger travel bags, the Batac is a stowable daypack that deploys for fast-and-light daytrips, hikes, and other excursions.
- • Main zippered compartment
- • Front vertical-zip pocket
- • Two mesh water bottle pockets
- • Each Batac made with remnant materials