How To Avoid + Handle Bear Conflicts While Outdoors In Minnesota + Wisconsin
It's the time of year when more and more outdoor enthusiasts will be heading out to hike, camp, and do a lot of other outdoor activities. With that in mind, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wants to remind everyone to be aware of bears and learn how to prevent conflicts.
The DNR says that while Minnesota is "Bear Country", people can peacefully share the outdoors with them by paying attention to where and when they are most likely to encounter bears.
It's important to note that black bears are naturally cautious animals that typically avoid human contact for their own safety. That being said, it’s essential to be proactive to prevent human-bear conflicts.
“Coexistence with bears is completely doable with a few easy steps that anyone can follow,” said Andrew Tri, bear project leader. “The key things to remember are to not surprise them and to keep food secure.”
The key for people recreating outside is to be aware of their surroundings and be sure to make noise periodically so bears know they’re there. It's also important to always keep dogs leashed.
To keep human food away from bears, people should keep a clean camp by practicing leave no trace principles opens in a new browser tab. The DNR advises people to:
- Store all coolers in a locked vehicle or store their food in a certified bear-resistant container.
- Take food waste with them rather than piling it outside the receptacle if the trash container or dumpster is full. Leave no trash or food scraps in camp and don’t burn scraps in the fire ring.
- Not leave food, trash, or pet food outdoors and unsupervised — all it takes is a few seconds for a hungry bear to swipe it.
While bears tend to avoid people, an encounter can still happen. BearWise offers tips on what to do should find yourself in various bear encounter situations.
In A Building, By A Dumpster, Or Around The Corner
- Give the bear a clear escape route (do not corner it).
- Leave any doors open as you back away from the bear.
- Do not lock the bear in a room.
In Your Backyard
- From a safe distance, make loud noises, shout, or bang pots and pans together to scare away the bear.
- When the bear leaves, remove potential attractants such as garbage, bird seed, or pet food.
- Ask neighbors to remove attractants.
- Check your yard for bears before letting out your dog.
In The Woods
- If you see a bear before it notices you: stand still, don’t approach, and enjoy the moment. Then move away quietly in the opposite direction.
- If you encounter a bear that’s aware of you: don’t run; running may trigger a chase response. Back away slowly in the opposite direction and wait for the bear to leave.
Here's to another season of outdoor fun and let's all do our best to get along with the animals that call the outdoors home.