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Avoiding Bear Encounters & Safety Tips For Forest Walks

I’ve come to the realization that the only place all four of my kids are completely happy is on the beach or on a forest walk.  With the different ages, it’s too hard to keep them all happy for an extended period of time at parks, the aquarium, science world, etc.  They all head off in separate directions and everyone ends up frustrated.  But get them near the ocean, tide pools, a forest with stumps to climb…magical things happen.  Everyone is happy and that makes my life SO easy!  The only drawback to this wonderful discovery is that bears are almost as common as dogs in the forested areas where I live as many neighborhoods back onto green belts and new neighborhoods have built homes high up into the trees.  It is not uncommon to see either a coyote, deer, or bear in our local neighborhoods. Yikes…it’s scary!  I don’t know how I would handle myself if I was alone in a forest with 4 small children and ran into a black bear.

I figure knowledge is empowering, so hopefully by the end of this article, I’ll feel more confident to explore the amazing nature that surrounds us in BC.  It is such an amazing lush and beautiful province, filled with trees that take your breath away.  This time of year the salmon have completed their annual run up the rivers to spawn, but wild berry bushes have started to sprout everywhere you look, which bears love to eat!  I would say a bigger problem in our community is people that leave their garbage at curb side the night before pickup and that property developers have built huge communities where the forest once remained untouched.  There has been lots of housing development of late.  But when deep in a forest, you are in the bear’s backyard, so you need to adapt. Here are tips to avoid bear encounters:

Avoiding Bear Encounters In The Forest:

→  Travel with others.  haha..with my kids I always have company.  Inviting friends with an adult to join us for walks would be a good idea.

→  Avoid wearing strong perfumes.

→  Keep children and dogs close to you at all times.  Stay together as a group.

→  Watch for fresh bear signs: bear poo (large with seeds visible), tracks, scratches on trees.

→  Make noise.  I smile as I type this because there is no louder gang than my brood all together.  You can clap, sing, talk loudly to warn a bear you are coming.  I will invest in some bear bells for the kids.  They are inexpensive and my kids would love the novelty of wearing them!  Anything that helps keep them a little safer.

 

If I can learn how to use it properly, I’ll also invest in some bear spray.  On most given days I have no clue where my wallet or car keys are…I’m not sure how effective finding bear spray in a stressful situation like a bear encounter would work for me.  <smile>  But, you can bet if one of my kids was in danger of being attacked, I could figure it out quick.

 

I don’t know where I heard ‘scream and run’ as the advice for encountering a bear at close range, but I’ve learned this information is not correct.  If you encounter a bear you should stand still, speak to it firmly but calmly, and wave your arms slowly or clap so that the bear will recognize you as a human.  You retreat slowly and quietly without making eye contact with the bear.

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