Be Bear Smart
The best method to avoid bear encounters
- Remain alert.
Shouting regularly or singing
loudly is far more effective than using bear bells.
- Keep your ears open. Do no wear earphones while on
- Watch for fresh bear signs. Tracks, scat and digs indicate that
a bear has been in the area. Leave the area if the signs are fresh
or if you encounter carrion.
Travel in groups and during
daylight whenever possible.
Keep your dog on a leash or
leave it at home.
Report bear sightings to
Kananaskis Country Emergency Services at
If you encounter a bear
- STOP! STAY CALM. Your calm behaviour can reassure the bear.
Screams or sudden movements may trigger an attack.
- NEVER RUN - running may cause the bear to pursue you.
- Pick up small children and stay in a group.
- Bears may approach or stand on their hind legs to get a better
look at you or to pick up your scent. This is their way of
identifying you and is not an aggressive response.
- BE HUMAN. Speak to the bear calmly and firmly. This indicates
that you are not a prey animal. Appear passive.
- If you have bear (pepper) spray, get your hands on it and be
ready to use it. Take note of the direction and strength of the
- Keep your backpack, hiking poles and other eqipment - they can
If the bear approaches you
- Remain calm and prepare to use your bear
- Assess the bear's behaviour and try to determine why it is
If the bear appears
- A defensive bear may be feeding or protecting young or you may
simply have surprised it - this is why it is imperative that you
shout or sing regularly while on the trail.
- A defensive bear will appear stressed or agitated and may make
- Try to appear non-threatening.
- Talk in a calm voice.
- Whenever the bear is not advancing, slowly move away without
turning your back to the bear.
- If the bear continues to advance, stand your ground and keep
talking. If the bear approaches to within 12 metres (40 feet) -
approximately the length of school bus - use your bear spray.
If the bear does not appear
- Young bears occasionally test their dominance or are curious.
In the rarest of cases, a bear could be predatory.
- Speak in a firm voice.
- Move out of the bear's path.
- If it follows you, stop and stand your ground.
- Shout and act aggresively.
- Try to intimidate the bear. Pick up a stick and/or raise hiking
poles above your head to appear larger.
- If it approaches to within 12 m (40 feet), use your bear spray.
If a bear attacks you, it is important to know if the attack is
defensive or predatory.
Defensive attacks are the
- Use your bear spray.
- If the bear makes contact with you, play dead! Playing dead
involves lying on your stomach with your legs spread apart and your
hands interlaced behind your neck to protect it. Having your legs
spread makes it harder for the bear to roll you over. Remain still
until you are sure the bear has left the area.
- Defensive attacks usually do not exceed two minutes in
duration. In most cases, injuries are relatively minor. If an
attack lasts longer, it is possible that the defensive attack has
Predatory attacks occur when
a bear stalks you along a trail and then attacks, or when an attack
occurs at night.
- Try to escape! A car or building may provide safe refuge.
Climbing a tree is an option but offers no guarantee of safety.
Black bears are excellent climbers and grizzlies have also been
known to climb trees. If you choose to climb a tree, get as high up
in the tree as you can as quickly as possible. Once you have a safe
perch, prepare to use your bear spray.
- If you cannot escape, DO NOT play dead.
- Use your bear spray and fight back! Make lots of noise, throw
rocks, hit the animal with a branch or your poles - do everything
you can to dissuade the bear from continuing the attack.