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Respect Wildlife: Bears


Black bears are found all over New Hampshire. Females typically weight 125 to 150 pounds while adult males tip the scales at 200 to 250 pounds. Black bears are generally shy and usually avoid humans; with their keen hearing and good sense of smell, they're usually aware of us before we're aware of them. They can be scared away by loud noises. However, bears are opportunistic and will search for human food supplies when natural foods are not available. Maintaining a sustainable bear population in New Hampshire depends on minimizing human-bear conflicts. The majority of conflicts can be avoided. Here are some tips on preventing bear problems.

Preventing bear problems when camping

Remember: A fed bear is a dead bear! When black bears are fed, they quickly learn unbearlike behaviors. Sadly, this may lead to serious, often deadly, results for the bear. You can prevent this by following these simple guidelines:
  • Never intentionally feed bears to attract them.
  • Maintain a clean campsite.
  • Put food scraps in closed containers, not in the campfire.
  • Do not cook or eat in your tent.
  • Keep food and cooking gear separate from your sleeping area.
  • Keep food in a closed-up vehicle or hang food at least 10 feet off the ground and 5 feet out on a limb that will not support a bear.

What to do if confronted by a bear

  • If loud noises, sticks and stones don't scare off the bear, back away slowly.
  • NEVER turn your back or run away from a bear as this can trigger its hunting instincts.
  • You can't get away from a black bear by climbing a tree. Instead, lie face down on the ground with your legs spread and your fingers interlaced behind your head. Your spread legs will keep the bear from rolling you over and exposing your abdomen, while your hands and fingers will protect your head and neck.
Much of the above information is excerpted from New Hampshire Fish & Game's Something's Bruin in New Hampshire: Learn to Live with Bears. For more on bears, visit NH Fish & Game's website. Article first appeared at: hikesafe.com.