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Loaded for Bear--How to Protect Yourself

First of all, let’s get something straight. You have a far greater chance of dying from a wasp sting or from a lightning strike than from a bear attack. Yes, Alaska is bear country, bear attacks happen, but they are extremely rare. Having said that, these are your best protection methods proven by experience. 

  • Keep food in bear-proof containers. Food attracts bears.
  • Make noise when walking in bear country. This alerts bears to your presence so as not to surprise them.  
  • If you surprise a bear, DO NOT RUN, it WILL CHASE YOU. Instead back away slowly and talk firmly. 
  • If a bear charges, let it know you are not easy prey. Shout at it, wave your arms and use bear spray (pepper spray)  if you have it.
  • If the bear makes contact, assume the fetal position and remain still until it leaves. This may be extremely difficult but it may save your life. 

Now let’s talk weapons. Nothing gives you a sense of security like a .44 magnum. It provides peace of mind. But unless you know exactly how to kill a charging bear with it, you may end up making him mad and provoking further attack.

Bear spray, on the other hand, can be quite effective in discouraging advance without permanently wounding the bear. It lets the attacking bear that you are too much trouble to be worth pursuing. 

If you are fortunate enough to see a bear on your Alaskan adventure, remember to keep your cool. Remember that you are in his territory. Take necessary measures to protect yourself. And enjoy the experience!