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Visitors to the Forest Should Always be “Bear Aware.”

MADERA COUNTY MOUNTAIN COMMUNITIES – Bears are attracted to anything scented or edible (such as lip balm, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, sunscreen, insect repellent, etc.) and improperly stored human or pet food and garbage are temptations bears can’t resist. Once bears gain access to food or garbage, they become less cautious of people and may exhibit bold behavior in their search for food, garbage and other attractants.

Bears that have become indifferent to the presence of people may cause property damage or threaten public safety. Please report all bear encounters to a local official and/or your camp host(s).

The following bear safety tips for campers and backpackers should be followed at all times:

  • Store food in bear-resistant canisters or containers while recreating.
  • Keep campsites clean. Put all bear attractants in food lockers or bear canisters away from sleeping areas. If food lockers are not available, store food and attractants in airtight containers in the trunk of your car.
  • Properly dispose of garbage. And do this frequently.  Just remember that all items (this includes food, food containers, etc.) that are brought into an area to use while recreating, need to be packed back out of the area!!  In the back-country, ensure garbage is stored in bear canisters. Bear resistant dumpsters may be available in developed campsites.
  • Hike in groups and keep an eye on small children.
  • Keep dogs on leash. Off-leash dogs can provoke bears to respond defensively.
  • Watch for signs of bears, such as bear scat along trails/campgrounds or claw marks on trees.
  • Stay alert and make noise while on trails so bears know you are there and can avoid you.

Never approach bears or cubs. Always keep a safe distance and never get between a sow and her cubs. If a bear does approach your campsite, stay calm and stand your ground. Make yourself appear larger by raising your arms above your head or if wearing a jacket, open it wide and clap your hands or make other loud noises. Do not run or act aggressively and never block a bear’s escape route. Black bear attacks are rare, but if attacked, fight back.

Backcountry visitors may encounter bear activity on any given day or location. Hikers and overnight campers should be diligent and keep food canisters sealed unless in immediate use.

Store all food, garbage and other attractants in canisters and place them at least 100 feet from all campsites. Prepare and cook all food away from sleeping areas and where storage canisters are placed. Do not hang canisters or tie them to trees, rocks, tents, or other objects that a bear can use to hold onto.

For more information: www.keepmewild.org


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