Over the years, Ruth & I have seen many bears while traveling. Most of them have been foraging at a safe distance. We even went to Kodiak Island once to see Kodiak Bears and saw none. The closest I have come to an actual bear encounter was a video I watched one time in a ski area in Canada. It was so frightening that I avoided being in situations where bears might appear for many years. The closest I have been to an actual bear was, of all places, in Aspen and the attractant was honey. Bear sightings are not all that unusual in Colorado, and the situation in Aspen involving a hungry bear went on for hours.
That’s why I found value in an article called “Wild Lives” in a Summer in Aspen magazine. It was written by Jami McMannes with input from the Aspen Police Department. If any people know how to deal with bear encounters, it’s them; and they have some good advice for anyone who might want to avoid seeing a bear in real life.
I have written about our bear adventures several times. The most recent was “Bear Encounters” in 2019. Others include “Banff Bears” and “Aspen Bear Update”. I know from experience that grizzlies and polar bears are the most dangerous, but black bears like you are liable to see in places like Aspen have killed more humans over time. Brown bears and grizzlies have the reputations of being the most aggressive.
“Wild Lives” says that bears often wander into human terrain and people should expect to see them. Human objectives at all times should be to keep wildlife wild. A bear’s usual diet consists of berries, nuts, plants, insects, carcasses, and last night’s pizza if it’s available. The last one is not a joke and bears do form bad habits like eating pizza that becomes an impossible habit to break. Pizza should never be available to bears. Attractants that are not normally available to bears should be removed and not become temptations. That’s why bird feeders and last night’s barbecue should never be around bears. Pet food should always be fed to pets indoors.
Rule #2 also deals with pets. Letting dogs run off-leash can stress bears and lead to an attack.
Rule #3 reminds humans to keep ground floor windows closed because a bear in a house leads to danger. A bear’s sense of smell is acute and no match for a human’s. If bears can smell food through an opened window or in an indoor refrigerator there is a risk of a break-in. Never leave food in a car when bears might have access to it.