top of page
© R. Bear Stands Last- All Rights Reserved

Image © Roger Hayden - all rights reserved

Bear Safety

Being Safe In Bear Country

People are the primary cause of almost all grizzly bear deaths. Fortunately, most conflicts are avoidable, but only if we are mindful and take precautions. Here are some basic tips. 


Watch for Sign of Bears:


When visiting or recreating in grizzly country, you should be on the lookout for evidence that bears may be nearby.  They are:

  • Turned over rocks or logs;

  • Logs or stumps that have been torn apart;

  • Claw marks on trees;

  • Bear food sources such as berries, whitebark pine seed caches, or animal carcasses;

  • Bear tracks and scat.


Store Food and Garbage Properly:

Grizzlies can easily become attracted to and even habituated seeking out livestock and bird foods, power bars, drink mix, dog food, horse pellets, and bird seed. All of our foods, our garbage, and the food we keep for domesticated animals should all be kept in secure places and away from a bear’s reach.

  • Hang your food at a distance of at least 10 feet above the ground and three feet between trees at least 100 feet away from where you sleep or cook.

  • Sleeping areas and cooking areas should be distant from one another.

  • Pack recently killed game out promptly. The longer an elk carcass remains on the ground, hanging in hunting camp, or laying in the back of a truck, the more likely it will be discovered by a bear.

  • Leave no trace: Make sure all food scraps have been removed from fire-pits, pack out your garbage and help prevent the next group that camps in the area from encountering hungry bears.


Carry Bear Pepper Spray:

Research shows that properly used bear pepper spray provides the best defense against a grizzly attack.  Unlike a gun, pepper spray does not have to be aimed precisely in order to stop a charging bear.  When sprayed in the face of an aggressive bear, pepper spray causes temporary blindness, as well as choking and coughing.


Only purchase a pepper spray that is clearly labeled for deterring bear attacks and provides at least 9 ounces of spray.  Be sure to carry the can in an easily accessible hip or chest holster.  In your tent, keep spray readily available next to your flashlight.  Spray should be tested once a year; do not spray in or near your camping area, as it may actually attract curious bears.  In the event of a bear encounter:

  • Remove the safety clip from the can;

  • Aim slightly down and towards the approaching bear;

  • Spray a brief shot when the bear is about 50 feet away;

  • Spray again if the bear continues to approach.


Once the animal has retreated or is busy cleaning itself, leave the area as quickly as possible (don’t run) or go to an immediate area of safety such as a car, tree or building.  Do not chase or pursue the animal.


Take Extra Precautions in Grizzly Country

  • Hike in groups of at least three to four people;

  • Don’t hike in the dark;

  • Make your presence known by speaking loudly, whistling or breaking sticks as you walk;

  • Make extra noise when you are near moving water or on windy days;

  • Watch for bears that might be feeding on the carcass of a dead elk, moose, or bison.


If You Encounter a Bear

  • Try to remain calm, talk to the bear in a low voice, and slowly back away.

  • Stay close to other members of your group.

  • Keep your backpack on for added protection.

  • If the bear charges, try to remain calm because bears are often bluffing.

  • If the grizzly does attack, lie on your stomach with your face to the ground, clasp your hands behind your neck and use your toes and elbows to resist being rolled over.

  • Play dead until the bear leaves the area.


Practical Tips for Homeowners

  • Do not leave dog food, coolers, or barbeque equipment outside where grizzlies can reach them.

  • Take down birdfeeders in early spring (mid-April) when bears emerge from their dens, if you live in or near concentrations of bears.

  • Keep garbage inside and remove it from the premises frequently to avoid buildup of odors.

  • Consider using bear resistant garbage containers suitable for residences if it is not possible to keep garbage indoors.


Grizzly Bears are intelligent, inquisitive and generally peaceful animals that, contrary to popular belief, rarely attack humans. Unfortunately, these bears come into the world with formidable strikes against them, including particularly low reproductive rates, small litter sizes, long periods (two to three years) of being raised by their mothers – and, sadly, a bad reputation . . .

Read More

Grizzly bears have been relegated to just 1% of the habitat they occupied at the time of European settlement. Since then recovery efforts have been uneven. Although significant suitable habitat remains within which grizzlies could be recovered, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (“the Service”) has only focused on recovery efforts in four areas . . . 

Read More

Wilderness—with or without the Great Bear—is a perilous place where a person can slip on a rock, be buried in an avalanche, drown or die of hyperthermia.  According to The Great American Bear by Jeff Thorne, a person is twelve times more likely to be killed by a bee sting, than by a grizzly bear. . .

Read More

Despite a huge amount of research, we do not fully understand how grizzly bears survive the long, cold winter months as they snooze in dens. We do know that they do not eat, drink, urinate, or defecate. Amazingly, they also do not lose bone or muscle mass, or kidney function.  Somehow, in January, the females bear young . . .

Read More

Although no study has been conducted that directly measures the economic value of grizzly bears, much has been done to document the value of protecting their wild habitat. And the overall contribution of wildlife and related activities to state and community coffers has been evaluated . . .

Read More

bottom of page