Here’s a topic I’ve always found interesting, especially given Mrs. Animal’s and my Alaska relocation plans: How to prevent a bear attack. Excerpt:
If a bear sees and charges at a hiker, it’s best to stay still and “stand your ground,” the NPS (National Park Service) said.
“Most of the time, if you do this, the bear is likely to break off the charge or veer away,” the NPS said. “This is called a bluff charge.”
If the bear gets within 40 feet (12 meters), start spraying pepper or bear spray. (Bear spray is recommended because it goes farther than pepper spray.) Both contain capsaicin, a chemical that irritates the bear’s eyes, nose, mouth, throat and lungs. But, if the bear continues to charge, it’s time to play dead, the NPS said.
Timing is incredibly important. A bear can still veer off at the last moment, so a person should play dead only within a nanosecond of making contact with the bear.
“Drop to the ground; keep your pack on to protect your back,” the NPS said. “Lie on your stomach, face down, and clasp your hands over the back of your neck with your elbows protecting the sides of your face. Remain still and stay silent to convince the bear that you are not a threat to it or its cubs.”
Once the bear leaves, wait several minutes to make sure the bear and its cubs are no longer nearby. Then, cautiously get up and walk (don’t run) away, the NPS said. The bear could still attack again.
“During a predatory attack, you should be aggressive and fight back using any available weapon (bear spray, rocks, sticks) to stop the aggression by the bear,” the NPS said. “Fight back as if your life depends on it, because it does. Predatory attacks usually persist until the bear is scared away, overpowered, injured or killed.”
Now, I’d like you to spot which item of preparation is missing from the linked article. Go ahead and look. I’ll wait right here.
Back already? OK, you probably noticed the one preventive measure that a great many Alaskans avail themselves of when in bear country, one that is more effective than any other; a firearm. A good powerful handgun or (preferably) a rifle or 12-gauge shotgun stuffed with slugs will stop a bear. With a bit of distance and luck, a shot into the ground may deter a bear before it gets too close. But an experienced hand with a good weapon will be safer than an experienced hand with a can of bear spray.
Alaskans know bears. They live with them. It’s not uncommon, on popular fishing lakes and streams, to be able to spot the locals by the .44 magnums on their belts.