When bears emerge from hibernation in the spring, eating is their number one priority. When bears hibernate, they lose up to 30% of the body weight so in the spring that they wake up very hungry. It’s essential for field workers to know about bear feeding patterns so that they can attempt to avoid getting between a bear and its food.
In the spring, bears are mostly looking for roots, shrubs, berries, whereas in the fall, bears are more likely to be found near water searching for salmon to give them the fat and calories that they need for hibernation.
Bears coming out of hibernation might be more visible and competitive as they hunt for food. If they appear early from hibernation or when their typical foods are less available, they’ll come looking for things such as human garbage. It’s important that everyone does their part to remove bear attractant and properly dispose of all food waste on work sites or in the bush.
To avoid a bear encounter you also want to make plenty of noise when working and be aware of your surroundings. Walk loudly in the bush and talk or sing frequently. If you’re working in an extremely forested area or around creeks, often scan your surroundings.
If you encounter a bear:
– Back away slowly and gently if the bear doesn’t acknowledge you.
– When the bear sees you, speak calmly and back away slowly – don’t run.
– When the bear moves towards you, make yourself as large as possible, wave your arms or an object, and make a lot of noise.
– Do not stare directly into the bear’s eyes
– If the bear attacks you, fight back if it’s a black bear, and play dead if it’s a grizzly
The ideal preparation to protect yourself from a bear encounter is to check for wildlife activity ahead of beginning work in the area by contacting local fish and wildlife officials.
– Take a bear/wildlife safety course.
– Have gear like bear spray and bangers which are designed to frighten bears and understand how to properly store and use them.
– Know who to call for Animal Removal.
– Carry a cell phone or communication radio that works in the area.
– Store food and garbage in airtight containers.