Bear encounters are on the rise as we move from Spring into Summer. Bears are showing up in the most unexpected places like your backyard, your bird feeders, your garbage and even your gardens.
We can all sympathize with these poor beasts. Humans have encroached on their territory in almost every state. And with the aid of today’s technologies human go deeper and deeper into the wild. The best way to avoid an encounter is to avoid them. But that is becoming increasingly more difficult to do when the bears are roaming the streets and visiting our backdoors.
Whether in your backyard or in the woods, most bear encounters result from the fact the bear is either protecting its territory, its young or looking for food. If a bear attacks it has either been provoked or is being predatory. Both situations are very dangerous.
Information abounds from experts in the field on bear behavior and ways to protect yourself if you are caught in the unenviable position of coming face to face with a bear. Most of us, unless we are outdoors enthusiasts, naturalists, hunters or adventurers, would not expect to encounter a bear in our daily lives but the headlines prove that assumption wrong. It could happen anywhere. Understanding bear behavior could save your life.
You could also save your life by being proactive and preparing for a bear encounter. Other than avoidance, the two most recommended solutions are guns or bear repellant. Both have their pros and cons. Let’s state the obvious. Guns are illegal in many places and unless you are a very good shot and have a high powered weapon, a shot from a gun does not usually drop a bear. A wounded bear can continue to run and attack. On the other hand, a direct hit from bear repellant usually stops the bear in his tracks. Bear repellant is easier to aim and shoot and, although very effective, is non-lethal. Pepper spray or bear mace will not cause permanent damage to the bear.
Bear sprays contain natural and chemical components which cause immediate inflammation of tissues on contact with eyes, nose and bare skin. You should aim for a bear’s face or use a back and forth motion to lay down a field of spray directly in the bear’s on-coming path to give maximum exposure to the bear’s face. The resulting inflammation and irritation of the eyes, nose and lungs is immediate and causes the bear to focus on his face instead of on your face. The normal bear reaction is stop and/or retreat giving you time to get to safety.