Alaska's Three Bears
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 trust their noses much more than their eyes or ears. Always let bears know you are there.
Don't Crowd Bears! Give bears plenty of room. Some Bears are more tolerant than others, 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 zone.
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.
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.
In most cases, bears are not a threat, but they do deserve your respect and attention. When traveling in bear country, keep alert and enjoy the opportunity to see these magnificent animals in their natural habitat.
Female bears can be fierce defenders of their young. Getting between a female and her cubs is a serious mistake. A female bear may respond aggressively to any threat she perceives to her cubs.
For additional information about traveling in bear country, please contact one of the following agencies which participated in publication of this brochure:
Photo credits: Larry Aumiller, K. Whitten, John Hyde
Last updated: April 9, 2016