Posted: Jul 16, 2013 7:57 PM by Melissa Anderson - MTN News
Updated: Jul 16, 2013 7:58 PM
Last week's attack of a woman near Duck Lake by a bear has triggered concerns among residents, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts.
Brenna White, a game warden with MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks, noted, "Bears are indeed wild animals, and they may look cute, especially when they are young, when they are cubs or yearlings, but that doesn't change the fact that they can be aggressive and hostile towards human beings from time to time because they are wild."
Once a bear becomes attracted to human food, nine times out of ten, it must be euthanized.
MT FWP encourages hikers and campers to be "bear aware" in the event they come upon a bear.
While making noise can help, one of the best protections against bears is bear pepper-spray.
White said, "Once you spray it, it's going to go out 20 feet and beyond. The key with the bear spray is, the sound and the color that it projects along with the mist, is typically what is going to scare the bear away. They don't like that sound."
The FWP website recommends that if you encounter a bear, you should stay calm, back away safely if possible, and never look the bear in the eye.
"You don't want to run. You don't want to be making loud noises to try to scare the bear off or try to approach the bear. If it's a grizzly bear and it starts approaching you, you need to curl up in a little ball, and try to protect all of your vitals in your neck. And, the bear may come up and sniff you, but try to remain composed as much as you possibly can," said White.
White says most bears generally prefer to avoid humans, even grizzly bears, but due to their keen sense of smell it's important to store food wisely.
By staying on trails and following the rules of bear safety, campers and hikers can usually avoid encounters with bears in Montana's wild lands.
The woman who was attacked near Duck Lake sustained serious injuries to her head and back, but is expected to recover; authorities believe that it was a grizzly bear that attacked her, but have not ruled out a black bear.