Road Trips, Destinations, Camping Etiquette and Camp Recipes
Seeing a bear in its native habitat can be an exhilarating experience – it can also be terrifying. Bears are prevalent throughout the mountains and forests of Montana including our highly visited National Parks. The chances of being injured by a bear in Yellowstone National Park are extremely low: 1 in 2.7 million. The risk of bear injury is about as high as being killed by a falling tree, being hit by lightning, or dying in an avalanche. While this risk is not high there are some very simple and easy practices you can adopt to stay safe while recreating in bear country.
Bears in Montana
There are two species of bears in Montana: black bears (Ursus americanus) and grizzly bears (Ursus arctos), also known as brown bears. Both species of bears are omnivores and eat many different plants and animals. They also can get a taste for human food, garbage and pet foods which lead to many negative bear-human interactions.
Why do bears attack humans?
There are two types of bear attacks on humans. The first is a defensive attack which occurs when the bear is protecting their young or a kill or they are startled. Bluff charges fall into this type of attack. Basically the bear is telling you to back off because it is uncomfortable with you in its space. If this type of encounter happens to you play dead as the bear sees you as a threat.
The second type of attack is a predatory attack where the bear sees you as food. These types of attacks are extremely rare. In the case of a predatory attack you will see the bear will stalking you. You will want to make yourself a threat to the bear by yelling, making yourself large, and by throwing sticks and rocks.
There are a few simple things you can do while camping to keep bears out of your camp:
While recreating on Montana trails keep in mind you are traveling through bear country. Don’t be afraid to venture into these wild areas, but do take some simple precautions to stay safe.
Using Bear Spray Properly
Bear spray has been found to be 90% effective at deterring undesirable bear behavior in the field, but this is only true if you have it on you and use it properly. When a bear is coming at you, unholster the canister and undo the safety clip. Spray the bear spray starting when the bear is about 40 feet from you. Follow the do’s and don’ts below prior to needing bear spray.
Amy Bowser is the co-owner of Paradise Overland with her husband Jon. In their free time they explore anywhere they can get to with their Toyota and roof top tent.