As the spring season approaches and snow begins to melt at parks around the country, National Park Service officials are sharing important bear safety tips with a touch of humor.
In a social media post, they jokingly advised visitors to never push a slower friend down, even if the friendship has run its course, when encountering a bear.
If you come across a bear, never push a slower friend down…even if you feel the friendship has run its course.
— National Park Service (@NatlParkService) February 28, 2023
While seeing a bear in the wild is an exciting moment, it is important to remember that bears in national parks are wild and can be dangerous.
The park service warns that bears’ behavior can be unpredictable and attacks on humans have occurred in the past, although, it is rare.
“Following some basic guidelines may help to lessen the threat of danger,” the park service shared on their website. “Your safety can depend on your ability to calm the bear.”
The park service starts off by advising visitors to keep their distance and not surprise bears. Making noise while hiking and traveling in groups can help avoid startling bears.
Officials also suggest being aware of your surroundings and making yourself noticed in areas with known bear activity or a good food source.
— National Park Service (@NatlParkService) February 12, 2023
While there is no single strategy that guarantees safety, the park service provided a few more general tips to help prevent bear encounters from escalating.
If you do come across a bear, the National Park Service recommends identifying yourself by talking calmly so the bear knows you are a human and not prey.
It is important to stay calm and remember that most bears do not want to attack; they usually just want to be left alone.
Additionally, hikers should pick up small children immediately if they see a bear. Hiking in groups can also be advantageous as groups are typically noisier and smellier than a single person.
The park service advises visitors to make themselves look as large as possible, by moving to higher ground, for example.
Visitors should also avoid allowing the bear access to their food, dropping their pack, or climbing a tree, as both grizzlies and black bears can climb trees.
If the bear follows, hikers should stop and hold their ground, as running will only encourage the bear to chase.
Lastly, visitors should be especially cautious if they see a female bear with cubs, never placing themselves between them and never attempting to approach them.