Hunting and fishing in bear country requires special equipment, skills, and precautions. Properly prepare for your hunt or fishing trip; and be sure to let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
Special Hunter Equipment Checklist:
Handling Your Game and Fish
Backcountry Camping - Always follow all local regulations.
Human food and beverages, horse feeds, dog food, garbage, etc. - either in possession or left unattended - must be kept unavailable to bears unless being consumed, prepared for consumption, or transported.
Items are considered unavailable to bears if they are:
Whether you hike, mountain bike, float rivers or ride horses, there are precautions you should take. Start by telling someone where you are going and when you plan to return.
Always follow local regulations and review trailhead signs.
Following the suggestions below will help make the journey safer for you, your companions, and wildlife. Bear country can also be home to cougars, snakes> and other wildlife, such as bison, moose, deer and elk. All wild animals can be dangerous. Look for bear signs in your immediate area; and always maintain a safe and respectful distance from wildlife. Please do not approach, follow, or feed wildlife, especially bears.
Reduce the risk of close encounters:
Keep Children Close to you and within your immediate sight at all times. Children should avoid playing in or near dense cover; and refrain from squealing or making other animal-like noises while hiking or playing.
Make Noise: Talk or call out in a monotone, non-threatening voice, sing, or clap your hands to let a bear know of your presence. Don't rely on bells, usually they are too quiet and a bear can become desensitized to them. Shout often when traveling upwind, near streams and waterfalls, or when you cannot see the path ahead. (Avoid thick brush.)
Be Alert: Watch for bear signs such as tracks, droppings, diggings, rocks rolled over, scratch marks on trees, and logs torn apart. Carry binoculars and scan ahead periodically.
Don't Hike Alone or at Night: Bears and cougars are most active at dawn, dusk and night, but can be encountered any time. Groups of three or more people tend to make more noise and appear more formidable. This makes groups safer than solo hikers.
Stay on Trails for your safety and to protect the habitat.
Avoid Carcasses: Report dead animals to the nearest ranger station. It is very risky to approach a carcass; a bear may be just out of sight, guarding its food.
Avoid Odorous Items: Leave foods and beverages with strong odors, scented deodorants, lotions, and other odorous items at home. A bear's acute sense of smell can detect odors from great distances. Dry foods are both lighter and less smelly.
Stay with Your Gear: Don't leave your packs, food, or beverages unattended; even food or beverages stored under water may attract bears.
Taking Pets on Hiking Trails is Not Advised: Pets may attract bears and cougars and are not allowed on trails in our national parks and refuges. If dogs are permitted, keep them on a short leash to avoid conflicts with wildlife.
Bicyclists and Runners should carefully select the areas they are recreating in and be extra alert in cougar, bear, and rattlesnake country. Speed and quietness increase risks of a sudden encounter. Wearing ear buds and listening devices should be avoided as it drowns out sounds around you.
Hike at a pace everyone can maintain and stay together. Cougars and some bears behave in a predatory manner and will seek the easiest target. Don't hike ahead or allow someone to fall behind, especially children and pets.
Running to a tree may provoke a bear or cougar to chase you. You cannot outrun them. Bears can run up to 35 mph, up and downhill, while cougars are known for their powerful sprints and jumps. Climb a tree only if it is near and the animal far away. Keep in mind that all black bears and some grizzlies climb trees.
Rattlesnakes are very seldom seen. They can sense our vibrations from walking and look for a place to hide, which is often behind rocks, logs or in thick brush. They are usually not aggressive unless they are directly threatened, either deliberately or by accident. Rattlesnakes do not always rattle before striking. To prevent being bitten avoid stepping directly in front of or behind logs and rocks (step on top and away). Before sitting down or picking up supplies from the ground, look around the area carefully. Watch where you put your hands and feet. Most importantly, enjoy snakes at a distance without disturbing them.
Alligators are found throughout the southeast and as far west as Texas. Crocodiles are found in parts of Florida. Both prefer to avoid people and will often retreat to water when disturbed. However, mother alligators will aggressively defend their nest and may chase intruders away. Be extra careful around shorelines as they may lay in wait for game. Be aware of trails or drag marks indicating a regularly traveled route.
View and photograph from established observation areas or the trail when hiking. If an animal approaches, back away in order to maintain a safe distance. You should stay at least 100 yards away from bears and 25 yards away from large wildlife such as bison, moose, elk, and deer.
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