Do you know what to do if you encounter a grizzly or black bear? Here are some bear safety tips.
Alaska is home to three species of bears, grizzly, black, and polar bear. The most common is the black bear, the next most common is the grizzly, then the polar (although you probably won’t see a polar bear unless you’re at the zoo or fly to their habitat). Although there are plenty of bears in Alaska, some people go years without seeing a single bear.
Let’s focus on how to tell a grizzly from a black bear and what to do if you have an encounter with them.
Before we begin, I want to share with you that color and size are not good identifying features. Both black bears and grizzlies can be black, brown, and even blond! Their size can also vary.
How to identify a black bear
- Pointed, straight face.
- Tall, pointed ears.
- No shoulder hump.
- Rump is higher than shoulders
- Short, dark claws.
How to identify a brown/grizzly bear
- Short, round ears.
- Prominent shoulder hump.
- Rump is lower than hump.
- Long, light-colored claws.
(Psst- You may also be interested in moose safety!)
Source: Fix.com Blog
About pepper spray & bear spray
Please note: If you’re traveling through Canada, you’re not allowed to cross the border with pepper spray, but you’re able to cross with bear spray.
Ways to alert & deter bears
Noise is your best friend if you’re trying to avoid bears. Although many people say bells are a good deterrent, many feel the bells make some bears curious or they’re not deterred at all by them. Many people clap their hands and talk loud to alert bears they are nearby. One of the top products I recommend is an air horn. It can be used anytime, even if a bear is ready to charge.
Bear Safety Tips If You See A Bear
- Stay calm! I know it is hard, but you need to have a clear mind.
- Stand your ground if the bear sees you.
- Slowly back up while saying something with a stern, yet calm voice. I prefer a “Woah Bear, wooooah!”
- Try and make yourself look bigger. Hold your arms out to make a cross.
- If you are part of a group, try and stay together.
What To Do If The Bear Makes Contact
- Black Bear: Fight with all your might.
- Grizzly: Be still and play dead.
Here’s a great video: