Bear country hiking tips from a big game biologist

Hikers in many parts of the West, especially northwest Wyoming, are in carnivore country and should think ahead to what they would do in a close encounter with a bear, wolf or mountain lion, says a wildlife biologist.

Annemarie Prince, a hiker as well as a biologist who works with big game and carnivores for the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department recently offered tips for staying safe in bear country.

Hikers should be alert for clues that indicate a bear might be nearby, including tracks, scat, prey carcasses or even freshly moved boulders, digs or ripped up logs where a bear may have been looking for squirrels or bugs.

“Keep dogs on leash, make noise and hike in a group,” she said in a list of recommended precautions one can take.

Seeing a cub is a clear sign to carefully leave the way you came. It’s not a time to be sneaking in for a photo, she said, noting that momma bear is likely close by.

“If you see a bear first, just quietly back out of there. If it sees you, let it know you’re human. Talk to it. Sometimes bears are just curious. They may stand for a better view.”

Trying to outrun a bear one might encounter in the wild is generally a bad idea, she said. “It can trigger an attack, and if motivated enough they could definitely run you down.”

Here are guidelines compiled by bear experts from federal and state wildlife agencies for avoiding an attack…


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