It is very important for your safety that you read this!!!!
Kodiak bears are the largest bears in the world. A large
male can stand over 10' tall when on his hind legs, and 5' when on all
four legs. They weigh up to 1,500 pounds. Females are about 20% smaller,
and 30% lighter than males. The Kodiak Island bear population is around
3,500 Kodiak bears; a density of about 0.7 bears per square mile.
Bears are curious, intelligent and potentially dangerous animals, but
undue fear of bears can endanger both bears and people. Many bears are
killed each year by people who are afraid of them. Respecting bears and
learning proper behavior in their territory will help so that if you encounter
a bear, neither of you will suffer needlessly from the experience.
Most bears tend to avoid people. In most cases, if you give a bear the
opportunity to do the right thing, it will. Surprisingly few people see
bears and only a tiny percentage of those few are ever threatened by a
bear. Most people who see a bear consider it the highlight of their trip.
The presence of these majestic creatures is a reminder of how privileged
we are to share some of the country's dwindling wilderness.
Bears and People
Bears Don't Like Surprises! If you are hiking through bear country,
make your presence known-especially where the terrain or vegetation makes
it hard to see. Make noise, sing, talk loudly or tie a bell to your pack.
If possible, travel with a group. Groups are noisier and easier for bears
to detect. Avoid thick brush. If you can't try to walk with the wind at
your back so your scent will warn bears of your presence. Contrary to
popular belief, bears can see almost as well as people, but they trust
their noses much more than their eyes or ears. Always let bears know you
Bears, like humans, use trails and roads. Don't sit up camp close to a
trail they might use. Detour around areas where you see or smell carcasses
of fish or animals, or see scavengers congregated. A bearís food may be
there and if the bear is nearby, it may defend the cache aggressively.
Don't Crowd Bears! Give bears plenty of room. Some bears are more
tolerant than other, but every bear has a "personal space"-the
distance within which a bear feels threatened. If you stray within that
zone, a bear may react aggressively. When photographing bears, use long
lenses; getting close for a great shot could put you inside the danger
Bears Are Always Looking For Something To Eat! Bears have only about
six months to build up fat reserves for their long winter hibernation.
Don't let them learn human food or garbage is an easy meal. It is both
foolish and illegal to feed bears, either on purpose or by leaving food
or garbage that attracts them.
Cook away from your tent. Store all food away from your campsite.
Hang food out of reach of bears if possible. If no trees are available,
store your food in airtight or specially designed bear-proof containers.
Remember, pets and their food may also attract bears.
Keep a clean camp. Wash your dishes. Avoid smelly food like bacon
and smoked fish. Keep food smells off your clothing. Burn garbage completely
in a hot fire and pack out the remains. Food and garbage are equally attractive
to a bear so treat them with equal care. Burying garbage is a waste of
time. Bears have keen noses and are great diggers.
If a bear approaches while you are fishing, stop fishing. If you have
a fish on your line, don't let it splash. If that's not possible, cut
your line. If a bear learns to can obtain fish just by approaching fishermen,
it will return for more.
Close Encounters: What To Do
If you see a bear, avoid it if you can. Give the bear every opportunity
to avoid you. If you encounter a bear at close distance, remain calm.
Attacks are rare. Chances are, you are not in danger. Most bears are interested
in protecting food, cubs or their "personal space." Once the
threat is removed, they will move on. Remember the following:
Identify Yourself Let the bear know you are human. Talk to the bear
in a normal voice. Wave your arms. Help the bear recognize you. If a bear
cannot tell what you are, it may come closer or stand on its hind legs
to get a better look or smell. A standing bear is usually curious, not
threatening. You may try to back away slowly diagonally, but if the bear
follows, stop and hold your ground.
Don't Run You can't outrun a bear. They have been clocked at speeds
up to 35 mph, and like dogs, they will chase fleeing animals. Bears often
make bluff charges, sometimes to within 10 feet of their adversary, without
making contact. Continue waving your arms and talking to the bear. If
the bear gets too close, raise your voice and be more aggressive. Bang
pots and pans. Use noisemakers. Never imitate bear sounds or make a high-pitched
If Attacked If a bear actually makes contact, surrender! Fall to the
ground and play dead. Lie flat on your stomach, or curl up in a ball with
your hands behind your neck. Typically, a bear will break off its attack
once it feel the threat has been eliminated. Remain motionless for as
long as possible. If you move, and the bear sees or hears you, it may
return and renew its attack. In rare instances, particularly with black
bears, and attacking bear may perceive a person as food. If the bear continues
biting you long after you assume a defensive posture, it likely is a predatory
attack. Fight back vigorously.
Firearms should never be used as an alternative to common-sense approaches
to bear encounters. If you are inexperienced with a firearm in emergency
situations, you are more likely to be injured by a gun than a bear. It
is illegal to carry firearms in some of Alaska's national parks, so check
before you go.
A .300-Magnum rifle or a 12-guage shotgun with rifled slugs are appropriate
weapons if you have to shoot a bear. Heavy handguns such as a .44-Magnum
may be inadequate in emergency situations, especially in untrained hands.
State law allows a bear to be shot in self-defense if you did not provoke
the attack and if there is no alternative, but the hide and skull must
be salvages and turned over to the authorities.
Defensive aerosol sprays which contain capsicum (red pepper extract) have
been used with some success for protection against bears. These sprays
may be effective at a range of 6-8 yards. If discharged upwind or in a
vehicle, they can disable the user. Take appropriate precautions. If you
carry a spray can, keep it handy and know how to use it.
Avoid surprising bears at close distance; look for signs of bears
and make plenty of noise.
Avoid crowding bears; respect their "personal space."
Avoid attracting bears through improper handling of food or garbage.
Plan ahead, stay calm, identify yourself, don't run.
For additional information about traveling in bear country, please contact
one of the following agencies which participated in publication of this
Department of Fish and Game
of Natural Resources, Divisions of Forestry and Parks and Outdoor Recreation
of Public Safety, Division of Fish & Wildlife Protection
of Land Management
National Park Service
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
U.S.D.A. Forest Service
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