Grizzly Bears and Hiking in Alaska

Grizzly bears are  part of the Alaskan landscape and hikers need to take precautions when deciding to explore this beautiful country.   To minimize chances of encountering a grizzly, people should hike in groups.   This allows for increased noise and alerts bears to your presence in time for them to move away.  Laugh and talk loudly, clap your hands, and/or sing throughout the hike, and deliberately walk on or through things that  make noise, like dried leaves and deadfall.      Additionally, since a bear’s eyesight is weak, a group of  hikers may appear to him to be a large, dangerous animal to be avoided.   kodiak-bear

However, should a close encounter with a grizzly bear occur, there are several safety strategies to employ.  The first action is to make you and your group appear larger than you are by standing together and holding your arms, walking sticks and other items above your heads.   A long-time Alaskan shared that she hikes with an umbrella that doubles as a walking stick.   As you are making yourself bigger, talk in loud, deep tones.   If the bear charges, do not run.  That sounds ridiculous but running elicits prey/predator behavior and you cannot outrun a bear.  Stand your ground, as the bear may abruptly stop the charge and move off.   If the bear continues to come at you, drop to the ground and roll into a ball, protecting your face and head.  You are now presenting yourself as a harmless animal and are not posing a threat.   Bears do not behave aggressively for no reason.   It may be a mother bear protecting her cubs or a bear protecting its cache.

Alaska is beautiful and should be explored.   But it is a wild country and you need to take precautions to ensure that you stay safe and that the animals stay wild.

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