Dangerous Animal Awareness: Moose and Bear Country
Hi friends! Just wanted to take a brief safety minute and chat about what to do when traveling in bear country. However, in Alaska it’s not just bears you need to worry about. Aside from the weather and realities of how unforgiving the climate can be (did you bring rain gear?), we live among bears and other large animals like moose. As we visit their back yards when we seek adventure, it’s helpful to mindful of that fact and understand how to react when you encounter them on the trail. It’s not an if but rather a when.
Moose are often disregarded as a dangerous animal since they have those goofy noses! They must be silly and friendly, right? Well, guess again. Moose have actually been in more human related conflicts than bears in recent years due to not understanding the warning signs and giving them their distance.
When encountering a moose, it’s important to give them the room they deserve! They’re large and in charge and when provoked, they know it. Moose can kick with all 4 legs in any direction. Imagine the pain! If you happen to be within view of a moose, and they do not know you’re there? Keep it that way and back away from the situation. Do not turn your back until you are far enough away to safely walk away. If they happen to spot you while you are walking slowly away? Talk to them, do not be aggressive. By being slow, and talking at a normal tone without yelling, you are establishing yourself as a “nonthreat” and not a “threat.” However, if you start to see warning signs such as pinned ears, bulging eyes and side-gazing, you have already crossed the “fight” circle and are now considered a threat.
If a moose charges you, seek cover and get away. If you are lucky enough to only receive a bluff-charge, that will be your last warning. A moose will not stop kicking or stomping until they feel the threat is neutralized.
On the reverse side, you should never run away from a bear, whether it is black or brown. Running only jump starts the prey drive and 4 legs always outruns 2. There are two main types of conflicts that arise with humans and bears and that is you either encounter a defensive bear, or a predatorial bear.
To avoid bears while traveling in bear country; stick to the following safety tips and you should be fine: Make noise, travel in groups, be aware of the wind direction and use all your senses. Never approach a bear you do encounter, avoid carcasses and be aware bears are smart and like us and like to use the same trails and roadways we do. Do NOT go for a morning run in the back country with headphones in; this decreases your ability to react appropriately.
When you go camping in bear country, do not sleep with your food! Keep smelly, attractable items away from your sleeping area. Bears have an incredible sniffer and will come for items such as toothpaste or even sunscreen. Always travel with bear spray.
During an encounter with a bear, even a sow with cubs, remember to stand your ground, stay calm, ready your deterrent, and talk to the bear.