July 25, 2011
Bear Safety Tips
You can minimize the dangers of a bear encounter in Yellowstone
Yellowstone is home to both grizzly and black bears. Although the risk of an encounter with a bear is low, there are no guarantees of your safety. Minimize your risks by following the guidelines below, provided by the National Park Service:
Follow Park regulations by staying at least 100 yards from bears, unless you are safely in your car as a bear moves by.
Never surround, crowd, approach or follow bears and all wildlife, and do not block their line of travel.
Make bears aware of your presence on trails by making loud noises such as shouting or singing. This lessens the chance of sudden encounters, which are the cause of most bear-caused human injuries in the Park. Hike in groups and use caution where vision is obstructed. Never hike after dark and, if possible, avoid hiking at dawn or dusk as well.
Avoid animal carcasses; bears often defend this source of food aggressively.
Do not provide food for bears and secure food, utensils, and waste in a hard-sided vehicle or, at campgrounds, in provided food-storage containers.
Tree climbing to avoid bears is popular, but often impractical advice. All black bears, all grizzly cubs, and some adult grizzlies can climb trees. Running to a tree may provoke an otherwise uncertain bear to chase you.
Bear pepper spray has proven to be a good line of last defense against aggressive bears, when used according to directions.
If you encounter a bear, do not run. Bears can run over 30 miles per hour, or 44 feet per second, faster than Olympic sprinters! Running may elicit an attack from otherwise non-aggressive bears. If the bear is unaware of you, detour away from the bear. If the bear is aware of you and nearby, but has not acted aggressively, slowly back away.
Some bears will bluff their way out of a threatening situation by charging, then veering off or stopping abruptly at the last second. Bear experts generally recommend standing still until the bear stops and then slowly backing away.
If a bear makes physical contact, drop to the ground, lie face down, and clasp your hands behind your neck. It may take all the courage you have, but lie still and remain silent. Resistance will only provoke the bear. Before moving, listen and look around carefully to make sure the bear is no longer nearby.
Visit Yellowstone National Park's Bear Page for additional information, videos, to report a sighting, and much more.
Sponsor a Bear Box
Now you can be part of the solution! Bear-proof food storage containers in campgrounds -- the most likely places for bears to access human foods -- is a proven method to prevent dangerous bear-human encounters. They can help protect both visitors and bears.