Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bear Market

This has nothing to do with the stock market. Not directly anyway. But due to the state of the economy, many Americans are planning camping/hiking vacations. National and State Parks have reported a high number of reservations being made. I’d love to go camping, to be in nature and just experience the ever-shrinking, untouched wilderness.

However, more people camping means the possibility of more human-bear interactions. There’s also the chance of more bear attacks. Bears don’t just attack because we’re there. But a mother grizzly bear can become suicidal-aggressive to protect her young. Black bears are perpetually hungry. That coupled with conditioning can cause attacks. First, they feed on scraps left behind at campsites. They then visit the campsites while humans are there and equate people with food. If the bear ever attacks, it becomes a human = food equation. 

So let’s go hiking. It can still be a wonderful event without any close encounters with bears. There are certain things we should know. While hiking, keep talking. The noise will alert the bear that you’re nearby. Bears usually stay clear of humans and females will want to keep their cubs away from any possible dangers. Every one in your party should have bear spray and know how to use it. During a bear attack is not the time to try to learn or read instructions. If you do come face-to-face with a bear (or any predator) never turn your back. You instinctively become prey and there’s a good chance you’ll become one with the earth soon after. Once an attack as started, here are some possible scenarios. Adrenaline is coursing through your veins and you fight back. A wounded bear becomes more aggressive. So if you shoot, make sure you take the bear out. Bears will fight to the death. Next scenario, you decide to play dead. This can work when up against a mother grizzly. Her attack was predicated on eliminating a threat to her cubs. If you remain absolutely still and absolutely quiet, she may perceive the threat as gone and slowly move on. However, black bears have been known to start eating their prey alive.

There’s strength in numbers. Bears are solitary creatures. So always camp or hike in a group. These are just pointers to know IF you encounter a bear. By no means should you cancel your trip or remain prisoner in the concrete jungle. Visiting nature will hopefully give you a greater appreciation for it and inspire you and others to preserve it.

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