Bear safety tips for hiking in Jasper and Banff
Black bear by Overlander Mountain Lodge
Most hikers spend their time on the trails peacefully admiring natural flora and fauna, but those who venture out in Jasper National Park and other parts of bear country have to be on the lookout for grizzlies and black bears. If you spot a bear in the distance, resist the urge to get a closer view and retreat slowly downwind. If the bear has detected you, following these five tips may save your life.
1. Do Not Run.
Most people understandably respond to danger by running away from it as quickly as possible, but unless you have super-human speed, avoid the temptation. Jasper National Park is home to grizzly bears that can sprint up to 35 miles per hour, far faster than any human.
2. Remain Calm.
Slowly take a few steps backward while speaking calmly. Avoid looking the bear in the eyes but never let him out of your sight.
3. Stand Your Ground.
Bears are notorious bluffers that will fake an attack to spook the enemy. If the bear charges, stay still and call his bluff. Once he retreats, make your slow and calm getaway.
4. Play Dead for a Grizzly
Playing dead reduces the injuries sustained by grizzly attack victims. If a grizzly makes contact, play dead by dropping to the ground and lying limp in the fetal position. Protect your head with your arms or backpack and wait for the bear to retreat.
5. Fight Back with a Black Bear
Black bears are more timid than grizzlies and are more likely to back off if their prey fights back. Raise your hands in the air to boost your physical appearance, yell and use any means available to fight off the attack.