- Stay Alert
Always keep an eye out for bears so you can be sure to give them plenty of room. Look for recent bear signs such as tracks, fresh diggings, scats or tree scratches. If you see any of these be extra cautious. Choose routes with good visibility where possible. Pay attention to the direction of the wind.
- Get Educated
Staying safe in bear country starts with knowledge about bears, how they think, and what to do when you encounter them. Knowing how the behaviours differ between different species of bears is important to your safety. We like to stay up to date and informed by visiting the Yukon Government website at https://yukon.ca/en/stay-safe-bear-country. There is also terrific information here from the University of Alberta. And check out Wildwise Yukon about, well, being wild wise!
- Buddy up
For extra safety, try not to go out into the wilderness alone. Travelling in groups of 3 or more is safest as the larger the group, the more intimidating to a bear.
- Make Lots of Noise
Always make lots of noise so you’re able to give the bears plenty of notice that you are approaching. The last thing you want to do is sneak up onto a bear! Loudly talking or singing is said to be better than using bells. Make lots of noise in thick bush, near berry patches or near running water. You can also use an air horn, although it is recommended to do so at a distance. Here’s a terrific article on air horns.
- Always, Always, Always Carry Bear Spray
Carrying bear spray is crucial, but you need to know how to use it. We recommend investing in inert bear spray (available in store now). This will give you a chance to practice in case you actually need to use it someday. Hunter Education and Outreach Officer Jim Welsh came to our store a while back to do a bear spray demo. You can see it here. We love his matter-of-fact, common sense approach!
And when you carry spray, be sure you can reach it easily. A holster on your belt or a Scatbelt will ensure that it isn’t hidden in a pocket of your pack in an emergency.
Get out and enjoy our beautiful wilderness! You don’t need to be afraid of bears. You do need to be respectful, informed and cautious.
“Our Elders tell us bears are sacred: we respect them; share the land, air and water with them; they are our spirit brothers and sisters; they are the protector of the animal kingdom; they keep the land healthy. So, in respecting our grandmothers’ and grandfathers’ words, let’s do our part to keep this legacy alive and protect bears, so we can both roam this great land together in harmony.”