Staying Safe in Bear Country

Release Date: Jul 2, 2012   RICHFIELD, UT

Contact(s): John Zapell, 435.896.1070

The hot, dry weather Utah is experiencing could increase the chance that a black bear wanders into your camp site or cabin area this summer.

The dry conditions have reduced the amount of natural vegetation that's available to the bears. Not having enough natural vegetation forces the bears to wander more in search of food. The wandering increases the chance that a bear will come into a camp site or cabin area this summer.

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to lessen the chance that a bear picks your camp site or cabin area as a place to wander into:

  • Store food, drinks and scented items securely (in your vehicle, a bear-safe container or a tree — never in your tent)
  • Dispose of trash in bear-proof dumpsters, if available
  • Wipe down picnic tables
  • Burn food off stoves or grills
  • Pitch tents away from trails in the backcountry
  • Always sleep inside your tent
  • Never approach or feed a bear
  • Report bear sightings to your campground host

When hiking here are some tips on how to stay safe in bear country:

  • Stay alert at dawn and dusk, when bears are more active
  • Go with a group, if possible
  • Make noise as you travel through dense cover
  • Stay away from animal carcasses
  • Store food, trash and scented items (such as sunscreen) in airtight plastic bags
  • Keep kids in the center of the group

If you encounter a bear

  1. Stand your ground.Never back up, lie down or play dead. Stay calm and give the bear a chance to leave. Prepare to use your bear spray or another deterrent.
  2. Don't run away or climb a tree.Black bears are excellent climbers and can run up to 35 mph — you cannot out climb or outrun them.
  3. Know bear behavior.If a bear stands up, grunts, moans or makes other sounds, it's not being aggressive. These are the ways a bear gets a better look or smell and expresses its interest.


If you see a bear in a campground or you encounter an aggressive bear, please tell the campground host, notify the local Forest Service District Office, or contact the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources immediately…

§  Cedar City, 435-865-6100

§  Price, 435-613-3700


 …or simply call 911 and local law enforcement will be notified.

For additional information on Bear Safety, visit



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