Friday, November 12, 2010

People worry about bears.

When I talk to people about the number of times I have been to Alaska, one of the first questions I generally get is about bears. People are afraid of bears significantly more than they need to be.

That doesn't mean that you shouldn't take appropriate bear precautions, but you also shouldn't lose sleep over our ursine friends. I highly recommend reading 'Bear attack their causes and avoidance' which is the final word on the topic of bears, and the causes of bear attack. One of the most important things I took away from that particular book is this:

You are 50% more likely to get injured if you have a gun than not. Now that doesn't say 50% more likely to get injured by a bear, just 50% more likely to get injured, and I think that says a lot. I hear many people talking about guns for bear protection - part of that may be that I live the American South East where people like their guns - But guns, particularly hand guns are not a good bear deterrent. Even the biggest hand gun has a relatively small bullet, and therefore small stopping power compared to the size of a bear. A much better idea is bear spray. Though again, you have to know how and when to use it.

Education is key, and I think a very big part of the equation is confidence. I think that bears sense the confidence level of the people in their vicinity, and base a lot of their actions on that, though that is just my opinion.

Of course, sometimes the right thing to do, is nothing at all.


  1. My method (staying completely AWAY from any wilderness area) is working well too.

  2. I have to admit, PO, bears make me a little nervous. We've lived in "bear country" over the years in several mountain communities on the mainland. There are places I'd love to have hiked but never did. The grizzly has now migrated here to the Island but not down as far south as we are yet. Whew! Hmmm, I wonder if they can swim as fast as we can paddle. I think the polar bear can! Duncan.