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What Recreators Can Do To Prevent Conflicts With Bears

Recreation News

Fri Jun 29 11:48:00 MDT 2012

When it comes to conflicts with bears, human behavior is the half of the equation an individual controls.

Outdoor recreators who are prepared and have a plan are those most likely avoid conflicts.

Here are some tips from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks that will help in preparing for bear-safe outings this spring and summer.

When recreating in bear country, take these steps.

  • Inquire about recent bear activity in the area.
  • Carry and know how to use bear pepper spray.
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Stay on trails or rural roads.
  • Travel in groups of three or more during daylight hours
  • Watch for signs of bears such as bear scat, diggings, torn-up logs and turned over rocks, and partly consumed animal carcasses.
  • Keep children close.
  • Talk, sing, carry a bell or use other means to make your presence known, especially stream side or in thick forest with low visibility.
  • Be especially cautious in areas where berry patches or other natural foods could attract bears.
  • Don't approach a bear; respect their space and move off.

When camping in bear country, take these steps.

  • Camp away from trails and areas where you see bear sign.
  • Keep a clean camp at all times. Keep tents and sleeping bags free of odors.
  • Avoid cooking smelly foods.
  • Hang all food, trash and other odorous items well away from camp and at least 10' above ground and 4' from any vertical support, or store in a bear-proof container. Livestock feed should be stored in the same way.
  • Don't sleep in the same clothes you wore while cooking or eating.

For more on recreating in bear country, go to the FWP website at and click Living With Wildlife and Bear Bear Aware.