Stephanie Jochum-Natt with Wild Aware Utah tells us what to do if we encounter a bear in the wild.
Black bears are Utah’s largest predators. Thousands of them live in our forests and mountains—often in the same places we like to camp, hike and build our houses. This poses a safety concern for both humans and bears. If a bear obtains food from a home or campsite—even once—it may become aggressive in future attempts. This almost guarantees the bear will have to be destroyed. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect both you and the bear.
CAMP AND HIKE RESPONSIBLY
When in bear country, you should:
- Maintain a bear-safe campsite
- Store food, drinks and scented items securely (in your vehicle, a bear-safe container or tree—never in your tent)
- Dispose of trash in bear-proof dumpsters, if available
- Wipe down picnic tables
- Burn off stoves or grills
- Pitch tents away from trails in the backcountry
- Always sleep inside your tent
- Never approach or feed a bear
- Report bear sightings to your campground host
- Take precautions while hiking
- Stay alert at dawn and dusk, when bears are more active
- Go with a group, if possible
- Make noise as you travel through dense cover
- Stay away from animal carcasses
- Store food, trash and scented items (such as sunscreen) in airtight plastic bags
- Keep kids in the center of the group
For more great tips on protecting Utah's wildlife and staying safe, go here.