Bear Safety Tips

Hiking and


Watch wildlife biologist Kim Delozier illustrate best practices for encountering bears in the video “Day Hiking & Wildlife.”

“I notice that after the hikers depart, the wildlife comes out, and the first place the animals go every time is the fire ring because hikers have half attempted to burn their food and trash, or spit their mint flavored toothpaste into these pits. The hikers move forward, but places remain immobile, animals become acclimated, and the next round of hikers pays the consequences.”

Chloë de Camara
Appalachian Trail Ridge Runner

Avoid bears while hiking and camping

Hiking, walking, camping and fishing in bear country takes special precautions.  While bear attacks are very uncommon and black bears rarely become aggressive when encountered, it’s best to avoid bears by following these simple steps, and to know what to do if an encounter happens.

While hiking or walking

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Hike in groups and stay together.
  • Keep kids within sight.
  • Make noise in thick cover.
  • Carry bear spray.

While camping

  • Do not store food in your tent.
  • Cook 100 yards from your tent.
  • Clean cooking area thoroughly.
  • Don’t sleep in clothes you wore while cooking.
  • Store food, trash, lotions, toothpaste, and deodorant in:
    • a hardtop vehicle with windows closed and doors locked;
    • a bear-resistant container;
    • or suspended in a tree 100 yards from sleeping area. For instructions on how to hang your food, see this excerpt from The Backpacker’s Field Manual by Rick Curtis.

With your dog

  • If you encounter a bear while with your dog, back away and leave the area.
  • Keep dogs leashed.
  • Do not let dogs chase or interact with bears.

While Fishing

  • Don’t leave fish entrails on shorelines of lakes and streams; sink them in deep water