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Forest Service offers 'Bear Aware' tips

Matt Jensen

The US Forest Service is offering Utah residents tips on how to stay safe in bear country this summer season.

Agency spokeswoman Kathy Jo Pollock says there have been recent sightings of black bears along the Wasatch Front. She says there are simple things that can be done to avoid an encounter with a black bear, including keeping campsites clean of food and trash, storing food away from sleeping areas and letting bears know when you’re around.

“If you’re in the backcountry, it would be wise if you’re hiking on trails – never hike alone – to make a lot of noise as you’re going through heavily brushed areas,” said Pollock. “That way a bear can hear you and be scared away.”

Other tips include not eating in your tent, depositing garbage in bear-resistant containers and always packing out what you pack in. If you do encounter a bear, Pollock says the best thing to do is simply walk away.

“If you do come up on a bear that does not hear you, but you see him, back out slowly,” she said. “If the bear does spot you, do not turn and run. Again, back away slowly and quietly.”

Pollock said another ‘bear aware’ tip often overlooked is to clean up after pets at campsites and properly store pet food.