On Bear Sightings and Encounters What to Do When You See One

The bear populations in Alaska are abundant and healthy. However, population density can vary according to the environment. Accessibility and abundance of food is the most significant contributing factor to population density. This is something to bear in mind (pun not intended) on your next fishing trip.

It’s not a rare occurrence for anglers to encounter or catch sight of a bear or two on their fishing trip. Although some anglers opt for a fishing guide service to help them find the best spots and avoid potentially dangerous situations, other anglers don’t mind looking on their own. Whichever route you take, it’s always best to know what to do. In this article, you’ll learn tips every angler should know in case they run into a bear.

Bears at a Distance or Signs of Their Presence

Of the many scenarios that can happen, this is the most ideal. Spotting the bear before it has a chance to get any closer allows you to do something about it. The best thing to do, however, is to leave them be. If they’re at a comfortable distance from your site, there should be no cause for alarm.

Don’t Fish Where They Feed

A tell-tale sign that an area is where they feed is when you see remnants of dead animals and fish. For example, you can often find bears searching for food on shorelines between dawn to dusk in spring and summer. Coordinate and plan your fishing trips and sites to reduce the chances of coming in contact with one.

Don’t Camp Close to a Path

When camping, there are a few things you must consider. One of which is setting camp near a road or trail. Unbeknownst to many, bears tread on paths and roads similar to humans. Camping near one will expose campers to the possibility of an encounter. To avoid this scenario, camping a ways away from the trail or on common camping grounds with other campers.

Bears in Proximity

If you catch sight of a bear nearby, but it’s not close enough to warrant a big concern, this is what you should do:

  • Respect Their Space: If a bear is a little too close than you’d like, the first thing to do is remain calm. There are many incidents wherein a bear appears close to a fishing site. But because bears are intelligent creatures that like to tend to their own business, there is little to no chance of conflict. The best response is to leave them be.
  • Don’t Go Closer: If you attempt to get closer to a bear, the bear might become aggressive. Because you are coming closer to them, they might feel threatened and take action. This advice is all the more important when cubs accompany a bear. Female bears tend to be more aggressive, especially with their offspring. Be sure to steer clear of them at all costs.
  • Secure Your Food: Everybody gets a little hungry in the middle of their fishing, which is understandable. It’s nothing a snack can solve. But sometimes, when left unattended and undisturbed, your cooler of sandwiches can attract animals. Although unlikely, maybe even bears. Brown bears aren’t usually picky eaters as they eat what’s in their immediate environment. This includes food found in camps and homes that are not appropriately secured. Cover or pack up any food that might be visible on your site, just in case. This will reduce the chances of an encounter.
  • Move to a Different Site: The safest action is always to move to a different location. Removing yourselves from the premises ultimately removes you from possible dangers should the bear move closer. When doing so, do so in an orderly fashion. Remember to keep calm. Don’t remove your sight from the bear. Track its movements while increasing your distance from it to prevent any surprises.

Bears in Contact

When a bear is a few feet away from you, here are some tips worth remembering:

  • Flee While You Can: If the bear hasn’t noticed your presence yet, walk away slowly while keeping your eye on it. Although it can be tempting to make a run for it, it’s riskier as it might trigger it to chase you. While the bear isn’t aware yet, take advantage of that time by exiting the premises slowly to avoid drawing attention from it.
  • Communicate Civility: In the case where it doesn’t notice you, wave your arms and speak in a soft monotone voice. Let it take its time to study you. Remember, brown and grizzly bears are intelligent creatures. Eventually, it’ll recognize that you are no threat.
  • Use Your Deterrent: When it looks like the bear will charge at you, have your bear spray or pepper spray in hand. Be prepared to use it. But if the bear makes contact despite the deterrent, curl up into a fetal position or lie flat on your belly. Once they’ve finished attacking, wait until they are no longer in sight before you get up and look for help.

You should always prioritize safety in your fishing trips. Although the chances of encountering a bear are low, it’s never zero. Do whatever is necessary to ensure your safety by knowing what to do. Regardless of the chances, it’s always best to be prepared.