Is bear spray necessary on the Appalachian Trail?
It is recommended that you carry bear spray when hiking in bear country. However, some parks do not allow the possession or use of bear spray. Check park regulations before your trip.
Always watch out for bear sign when hiking in parks with bears. Be aware. Be alert while on the trail, and always be on the lookout for bears. Keep an eye out for fresh tracks, scat, other signs (torn up logs, digging, fresh claw marks on trees), and carrion (carcasses) in the area.
If you absolutely cannot get bear spray, then regular pepper spray could be used as an alternative. It's easy to find abroad and is allowed in checked luggage. Just don't expect it to be as effective as bear spray.
If you do any hiking or camping in Yellowstone, you SHOULD bring bear spray. Generally, you don't need bear spray when visiting the popular and crowded geyser areas and villages, such as Old Faithful and Canyon Village. Bear attacks are extremely rare and unlikely, but they do happen.
A bear will smell your food regardless of what container you put it in. A dry bag may reduce the distance from which a bear can smell your food, but will not make it impossible to smell your food. It's extremely uncommon – especially for black bears – for a bear to attack a person to try to steal their food.
Bears also dislike the strong scent of pine-based cleaners, but avoid using anything with a fresh, lemony or fruity smell. And never mix bleach and ammonia; the combination produces fumes that can be deadly to both people and bears.
Tents are not a proven deterrent against attacks from large wild animals such as bears or cougars. A tent, however, serves as protection while you sleep from insects and snakes.
Returning to your campsite to find a bear at your tent is scary. So much so that it is likely to ruin your whole day. Bears can and do get into tents very easily. They are invariably searching for food but may also be attracted by the scent of perfumes and other toiletries.
Does bear spray work and what does bear spray do? Bear experts agree that bear spray is much more effective than firearms in a human-bear confrontation. While estimates of bear spray success rates range from 90 to 98%, humans are injured in 50% of bear confrontations where the human uses a firearm*.
Bear Spray IS Effective
Bear spray stopped black bears' undesirable behavior 90% of the time, according to “Efficacy of Bear Deterrent Spray in Alaska” (Smith et al., 2010).
What is better than bear spray?
If you're worried about bears, carry bear spray. On the other hand, if you're concerned about human attacks, a pepper spray gun for self-protection is better.
Female Grizzly Bear in Yellowstone steal from humans, so you have to work a bit harder to find them, but once you do bears show much more natural behavior. They are active throughout Yellowstone in spring, summer and fall then hibernate all winter, emerging sometime in March or early April.
If the bear sees you, retreat slowly and leave the area. If possible, slowly walk upwind to let your scent reach the bear. Regardless of the distance, never approach the bear.
Although bears are less frequently observed along roadsides and within developed areas today than in the past, many people still see bears each year. From 1980-2011 over 40,000 bear sightings have been reported to park managers.
Bears can smell through Ziploc bags. They do so because scent molecules escape through the thin plastic.
Lotions, deodorants, scented soaps and perfumes are all going to pique the attention of your not-so-friendly neighborhood grizzly or black bear. Pack your toiletries in doubled plastic bags or airtight containers.
Why coffee grounds? Since the bears have a strong sense of smell, such a pungent treat is extremely attractive and stimulating to them. The bears roll around in coffee grounds like a cat in catnip!
Most animals dislike the smell of fabric softener sheets, the kind you use in your dryer. They can also cover the smell of food. Take a pack with you in your camping supplies and put them everywhere: in your cooler, tent, sleeping bag, and backpack.
While bears love anything sweet (yes, even honey) they have often been found to steer clear of anything pine-scented. Bears dislike the scent of any pine-scented cleaners that contain pine. Using pure pine oil or a cleaner that contains pine oil, such as Pine-Sol, will aid in repelling bears.
Coffee grounds are easy to overlook since you wouldn't think that this type of waste can attract animals. However, bears and other animals love the pungent smell of coffee grounds. In fact, some zoos use coffee grounds as an enrichment activity for bears.
What to do if a bear is charging you?
When the bear charges you, hold your ground and stay calm. After the bear charges, slowly retreat while keeping an eye on the bear. Let the bear know that you're a human, and that you aren't a threat. Continue to speak to the bear in a calm voice and make it clear that you are a human.
In most cases, the bear will flee. If you are in your campsite or other place bears shouldn't be, and you are sure the bear is a black bear, consider trying to move it out of the area. Ensure the bear has a clear and safe escape route with no people or obstacles in its way. Stand tall and look it directly in the eye.
Campfires, as warm, cozy, and safe as they make us feel, will not deter bears. But loud, off-key singing around a campfire will. The fact is, bears don't want an encounter with us any more than we want one with them. And noise is the best deterrent.
It is a common misconception that shotgun ammunition is a good way to chase away a bear. In reality, target or bird-hunting shot is an ineffective solution that often leads to unnecessary outcomes. Bears have relatively thin skin and shotgun ammunition can be extremely harmful and even lethal.
Bears aren't typically scared of bright lights because bears naturally have no negative association with bright light and don't see it as a threat.