Tips for avoiding bear encounters

Bear Safety Tips

Hiking, Camping, Fishing

Take Special Precautions

Hiking, walking, camping, cycling 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 listed below, and to know what to do if an encounter happens.

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

To avoid bear encounters while…

solo hiking icon

…Hiking or Walking

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Hike in groups and stay together.
  • Keep kids within sight.
  • Keep dogs on a leash or leave them home.
  • Make noise in thick cover.
  • Carry bear spray.
meeting a bear on the trail
dog hiking icon

…With Your Dog

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


  • Do not store food in your tent.
  • Cook as far from your tent as possible.
  • Clean cooking area thoroughly.
  • Don’t sleep in clothes you wore when cooking.
  • Store food, trash, lotions, toothpaste, and deodorant in a hardtop vehicle with windows closed and doors locked OR a bear-resistant container OR suspended in a tree 100 yards from sleeping area.
how to hang food from a tree

For instructions on how to hang your food, see this excerpt from The Backpacker’s Field Manual by Rick Curtis.