Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bear Safety in Bear Country

Black Bear in Shenandoah National Park
A Black Bear in Shenandoah National Park

I would like to stress the importance of Black Bear Safety.  The Black Bear is heavily   populated in the Smoky Mountain and North Carolina area; and although, quite magnificent, they are very unpredictable creatures.
Please, I cannot stress enough; adhere to the cautions.  According to the Smoky Mountain website, they say to stay at least 15o feet (50 yards) away.  While we were in Cades Cove and saw the momma bear with her cubs from the Hayride wagon, you would not believe how other people on the at trail who were not part of the ride, threw caution to the wind and tried to get up close to the bear just to get a picture.  Use the zoom on your camera instead.  Even the Ranger said the people were much to close.  Thank goodness nothing happened, but why that the chance:
These are the precautions that I took to be bear safe:
    First, I kept my child by my side at ALL times.
    Make sure you do not wear perfume or strong scented items.
    I had a can of Bear Spray on me.  (Read all warning and follow the safety instructions - Do not let your kids handle this)
    My coworker gave me a bear bell to carry.  They sell some now that have a magnet inside to prevent the bell from ringing when you do not want it to ring.  (I have heard that this is just a gimmick, but they say to make noise so you do not startle a bear.  So make noise as you hike.)
    I made sure all food was in its prepackaged wrapper and then put in a sealed resealable bag.
    I made sure that if we went on a trail, there were others on the trail too.  I know that is kind of a disappointment if you want peace and quiet, but I like to think safety in numbers.
    We also did not hike at dawn or dusk when the bear is more active.  (please note: Each bear encounter I came across was during the day, so just always be prepared)
    Most importantly - Remember to Never Feed a Bear this is what makes them aggressive towards humans

Use precautions; be bear aware of your surroundings; and most of all enjoy your family and exploring nature with your children.
I found the below informative video from Long Long Honeymoon.  I think they did a really good job explaining bear safety.  It is 20 minutes long with good examples.