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Bear Bells

May 30, 2010

The state park near our house is home to approximately 300 black bears and 65 brown bears. Since one of my main goals this summer is to spend as much time outside as possible, it became necessary to do some more research on bears. To that end, I learned quite a few things about bears today.

Did you know, that one of the most highly recommended “bear repellents” seems to be bear bells? What is a bear bell, you ask? Well, since we purchased a couple of them earlier today, I have the pleasure of showing you, exactly what a bear bell is (please disregard the quality of the iPhone photo) 🙂 :

So basically, it’s a large jingle bell – on a velcro loop. We bought the “fancy” ones, so it also has the little pouch you see attached to the right. The pouch is mesh and has a magnet sewn into the bottom so you can actually silence your bell when it isn’t needed – which sounded like a pretty good feature to us!

You may be wondering, as we were, how on earth this bell would make any difference when confronted with a bear?! Well, the idea is that if you wear the bell, your chances of meeting a bear go down by a lot. Apparently bears are pretty anti-social and if they hear you coming will usually try to avoid you. Singing, whistling, and talking are also recommended – basically make as much noise as possible so the bears know you’re coming and clear out before you meet them face-to-face.

Of course, there are times where you might run into a bear despite your best efforts. One of the hiking books I bought says the following:

“If you come upon a bear and the bear does not see you, slowly back up and retreat. If the bear does see you, identify yourself as human. Do not run. Hold your ground, stand tall, and wave your arms and talk loudly until the bear retreats. A bear that stands up usually is curious and not a threat. If the bear charges, continue waving your arms and speaking in a normal voice. Almost all charges are bluffs, and the bear usually will stop within feet of you and then veer off. Under no circumstances should you run. Running can trigger a bear’s chasing instinct, and none of us can outrun a bear.”

Um… right. Note the parts above that I put in bold. Seriously?! If I happen to meet a bear face-to-face in the woods, I’m supposed to “identify myself as human” by waving my arms and talking loudly. At which point the bear will either retreat or CHARGE ME?! Oh, and if he charges me, it will probably be a bluff, so I should stand there and continue talking and waving my arms, waiting for it to pull up a few FEET from me!! If that happens, let’s hope the sight of me peeing my pants doesn’t send some other undesirable signal!

Let’s all just pray that the bear bells do the trick and the bears go on their merry way before I bump into them, eh? 😉

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Stephanie permalink
    May 31, 2010 7:53 am

    hahaha! Good luck on avoiding the bears!

  2. randiliz permalink
    May 31, 2010 5:29 pm

    Oh girl, I hate to tell you but bear bells don’t really do anything except make other Alaskans laugh at you. You will run into a bear at some point while living here. It’s inevitable. It’s really not that bad. They will usually just run away.

    • May 31, 2010 7:24 pm

      Well that’s good to know – gotta love the things that just scream “tourist” to the locals. 🙂

  3. May 31, 2010 6:30 pm

    Oh my God! I can’t believe that if it s CHARGING at you, you are still not supposed to run. I would need like 50 of those bells. Terrifying.

  4. June 1, 2010 9:27 pm

    wow! that’s amazing that the best protection is a bell. seriously, get tons of bells, maybe even some for the dogs…

    • June 1, 2010 9:57 pm

      I mainly got the 2 we bought for the dogs. We will be investing in guns for ourselves – hopefully we won’t ever have to use them though!

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