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 do encounter a bear at close distance, remain calm. Attacks are rare. Chances are, you are not in danger. Most bears are interested only in protecting food, cubs or their "personal space." Once the threat is removed, they will move on. Remember the following:
In rare instances, particularly with black bears, an 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 for Personal Protection
A .300-Magnum rifle or a 12-gauge 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 salvaged and turned over to the authorities.
Defensive aerosol sprays which contain capsaicin (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.
Did You Know?
The black spruce tree was traditionally used for medical purposes by many Alaskan Native tribes. Some of these uses included treating snow blindness or eye damage, infections, toothaches, and sore throats.