Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Glacier National Park!

Tomorrow morning I'm headed to Glacier National Park for a 3-day backpacking trip. A few notes from the Glacier Park Service:

  • An increasing number of backcountry hikers carry pepper spray as a possible deterrent against aggressive bears.
  • You should have a tent with a waterproof floor, rain-fly, and a no-see-um netting, and this tent should be designed to withstand strong winds. Bring plenty of extra stakes and strong cord.
  • Insect repellent is highly recommended.
  • You can count on your feet getting wet regardless of your boot type, so durability and support should be a prime concern. Many pair of socks are essential.
  • Plan to be self sufficient in any emergency. The land is vast and remote, and you cannot count on early help if you have difficulties.

Excerpts from the Glacier Park Bear Guide


Stationary frontal orientation - If a bear is standing and facing you, it is certainly not being submissive. This is an aggressive position and may signal a charge. It is likely waiting for you to withdraw.


Huffing - When a bear is tense, it may forcibly exhale a series of several sharp, rasping huffs. A mother may also huff in order to gain the attention of her young.

Woof - A startled bear may emit a single sharp exhale that lakes the harsh quality of a huff. If her cubs woof, a mother will immediately become alert to the situation.

Jaw-Popping - Females with young often emit a throaty popping sound, apparently to beckon their cubs when danger is sensed. A mother vocalizing in this manner should be considered nervous and extremely stressed. Bears other than sows also jaw-pop.

Growl, snarl, roar - Clear indication of intolerance.

Other Indicators

Yawning - Indicates tension. This behavior may results from the close proximity of another bear or human presence.

Excessive Salivation - A clear sign of tension, salivation may appear as white foam around the bear's mouth.

Charge - The vast majority of charges are ones in which the bear stops before making contact. The intensity of the charge or associated vocalizations may vary, but it is distinct in that it is an aggressive or defensive act clearly directed at another bear or human. Bears may charge immediately, as a sow fearing for her cubs, or may emit stressed or erratic behavior before charging.

There is no guaranteed lifesaving method of reacting to an aggressive bear. Some behavior patterns have proven more successful in close encounters than others. Take a calm assured posture. A firm voice and gradual departure are better than a retreat in panic. Include the nature of your surroundings in your reaction.

As a last resort, lie face down, protect your neck with your hands and arms, and don't move. This requires considerable courage, but resistance would be futile. Numerous incidents exist where a bear has sniffed and departed without serious injury.


Walker said...

I'm jealous. You're going to have a super time. If you want to go climbing or anything you can borrow my stuff.

Anonymous said...

If a black bear charges, fight back! If a brown bear charges, put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye!
Have a Blast - Phil