Wildlife Awareness

Avoid wild animals that come too near or seem too friendly.


Take these basic precautions to avoid a confrontation:

  • Never store food in your tent (some parks have bear-resistant food storage facilities).
  • Do not cook or eat in or near your tent.
  • Do not sleep in clothes worn while cooking (clothing absorbs food odours).
  • Store and carry food (and garbage) in airtight containers.
  • Do not bury garbage as bears (and other animals) can easily dig it up. The bear may then become a danger to the next group of hikers.
  • Hang food packs (and your toothpaste) from a tree out of reach of bears (and other animals) and away from your immediate camping area.
  • Never feed a bear.
  • Stay away from a mother and her cubs.
  • Make noise when you walk in the bush to advertise your presence.
  • Avoid scented cosmetics - bears may be attracted to perfumes, hair sprays and soaps.
  • Women should be extra careful during menstruation to take steps to eliminate odours, particularly from used materials, by storing them in an airtight container.

Bears are very intelligent and complex animals. Each bear and each encounter is unique; there is no single strategy that will work in all situations. Some guidelines:

  • Stay calm. Most bears don't want to attack you; they usually want to avoid you and ensure you're not a threat. Bears may bluff their way out of an encounter by charging and then turning away at the last second. Bears may also react defensively by woofing, growling, snapping their jaws and laying their ears back.
  • Immediately pick up small children and stay in a group.
  • Don't drop your pack. It can provide protection.
  • Back away slowly, never run! Bears can run as fast as a racehorse, both uphill and downhill.
  • Talk calmly and firmly. If a bear rears on its hind legs and waves its nose about, it is trying to identify you. Remain still and talk calmly, so it knows you are not a prey animal. A scream or sudden movement may trigger an attack.
  • Leave the area or take a detour. If this is impossible, wait until the bear moves away. Always leave the bear an escape route.
  • Bears do not like surprises. Try to avoid such encounters by being alert and making noise.
  • If you surprise a bear and it defends itself, use bear spray if you have it. If contact has occurred or is imminent, PLAY DEAD! Lie on your stomach with legs apart. Protect your face, the back of your head and neck with your arms. Remain still until the bear leaves the area. These attacks seldom last more than a few minutes.
  • While fighting back usually increases the intensity of such an attack, in some cases it has caused the bear to leave. If the attack continues for more than several minutes, consider fighting back.
  • If a bear stalks you and then attacks, or attacks at night, DON'T PLAY DEAD - FIGHT BACK! First, try to escape, preferably to a building, car or up a tree. If you can't escape, or if the bear follows, use bear spray or shout and try to intimidate the bear with a branch or rock. Do whatever it takes to let the bear know you are not easy prey. This kind of attack is very rare but can be very serious because it often means the bear is looking for food and preying on you.

For more information on bears, consult your local library, park authorities and recreational organizations.

The Municipality of Powassan
250 Clark Street PO Box 250 Powassan, ON P0H 1Z0 | Phone: 705-724-2813 | Fax: 705-724-5533 | office@powassan.net

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