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Bear Confrontations: How To Handle And Avoid Them

Jim Martin
Wikimedia Commons

It goes without saying, bears are dangerous, especially if you don’t know what to do if you meet one in the wild. The Utah Department of Wildlife Resources has issued an annual caution with some pointers on what to do in such a situation.

“We recommend to people, if you do encounter a bear…the first thing to do is stand your ground," said Faith Jolley, a public information officer with the Utah Department of Wildlife. "Specifically, with the black bear - don’t ever back up from the bear, don’t lay down, don’t play dead, stay calm and give the bear a chance to leave. Typically they’re just kind of curious, but if you stand your ground they’ll back away. We tell people, prepare to use bear spray or another deterrent if they are not backing away.”

But it’s also good to avoid confrontation altogether. Faith explained how to avoid attracting bears while you’re out in the wild.

“One big thing we’re reminding people is it is bear country, it is their home. To avoid run-ins or attracting bears, we ask that people bear-proof their food," she said. "Store your food and snacks and other scented items in an area where a bear cannot get to them to reduce the chance that smell is going to spread and get out to where a bear is. It doesn’t just stick with only food, some items that people might not think of, like deodorant and toothpaste, are also pretty pungent. Bears just have a really great sense of smell - once they smell something, it can attract them to an area while they’re looking for food.” 

Faith said if you do see a bear anywhere either in the wild or near populated areas, you should contact your local Department of Wildlife Resources office.