Be Bear Aware!

Bear Aware Header


Most people relish the opportunity to glimpse a bear during their visit to Alaska. Anyone who travels in Bear Country should know basic avoidance and response procedures in order to minimize the chance of unwanted close encounters with bears.

Key Points:

  • Become acquainted with basic bear biology, habitat, diet, and annual changes as these will help you understand bear behavior.
  • Learn to identify the difference between Black Bears and Brown Bears by physical characteristics and tracks, and how they behave differently from each other.
  • Learn how to read bear sign, such as tracks, scat, bear trees, beds, etc.
  • Understand bear behavior so you can identify if the bear is becoming stressed or is acting aggressively.
  • Learn how to use aversion techniques - such as the use of bear spray, and what limitations there are with each tool.
  • The leading cause of bear attacks is the unexpected close proximity of people and bears. Bears may respond to this surprise by attacking. Therefore, the best bear deterrent is to make sure your presence is known. While hiking in bear country, make noise - talk, sing, attach a can with pebbles inside to your pack, whatever it takes to alert a nearby bear of your presence.
  • Whenever possible, travel in a group. There is safety in numbers!
  • Avoid traveling when bears are most active- in early morning or evening.
  • Where possible, avoid thick brush, or any place or time where visibility is poor.
  • When camping in bear country, NEVER, EVER HAVE FOOD INSIDE YOUR TENT!!
  •  This includes items with an odor - toothpaste, soap, suntan lotion etc.
  • Avoid camping near trails or wherever bears are likely to travel.
  • Food should be stored away from camp, ideally in a bearproof container or out of reach of bears. Remember, black bears can climb trees!
  • After meals, you should store food leftovers and wash dishes immediately. 


Keep your camp clean. The lack of cleanliness of your camp not only endangers you but also anyone else who camps there. If you arrive at a campsite and notice bear tracks, droppings, or garbage scattered around the site, try and find another site. These are all signs that a bear may have learned to associate humans with food.