When bears emerge from hibernation in the spring, eating is their number one priority. When bears hibernate, they lose up to 30% of their body weight so in the spring that they wake up very hungry. It’s important for field workers to know about bear feeding patterns so they can attempt to avoid getting from a bear and its food.
In the spring, bears are largely looking for roots, shrubs, berries, whereas in the fall, bears are more likely to be found near water searching for salmon to provide them with the fat and calories that they need for hibernation.
Bears coming out of hibernation might be more visible and competitive as they hunt for food. If they appear early from hibernation or when their typical foods are less available, they’ll come looking for things like human garbage. It is important that everyone does their part to eliminate bear attractant and properly dispose of all food waste on work sites or in the bush.
To avoid a bear encounter you also want to make loads of noise when working and be aware of your surroundings. Walk loudly at the bush and talk or sing frequently. If you are working in an extremely forested area or about creeks, frequently scan your surroundings.
Should you encounter a bear:
– Back away slowly and quietly if the bear does not acknowledge you.
– When the bear sees you, talk calmly and back away slowly – don’t run.
– When the bear moves towards you, make yourself as big as possible, wave your arms or an item, and make a lot of noise.
– Don’t stare directly into the bear’s eyes
– If the bear attacks you, fight back if it’s a black bear, and play dead if it’s a grizzly
The best preparation to protect yourself against a bear encounter is to check for wildlife activity ahead of starting work in the area by calling local fish and wildlife officers. Other things you can do to equip yourself include:
– Take a bear/wildlife safety course.
– Have equipment like bear spray and bangers which are designed to frighten bears and understand how to properly store and use them.
– Know who to call for help.
– Carry a mobile phone or communication radio is effective in the region.
– Store food and garbage in airtight containers.