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Hikers, campers, anglers this weekend are cautioned to be bear aware

July 2, 2009 |  2:17 pm


Southern California hikers, campers and anglers will flock to local mountains and the Sierra Nevada during the first holiday weekend of summer. They ought to know that bears are no longer hibernating and many are hungry. So here are some tips for those bound for the forests and streams:

--Do not intentionally feed bears and do not leave garbage strewn about.

--Enjoy your favorite pastime in groups (this should not be a problem on the busy weekend).

--Keep the kids in sight at all times, and keep pets on a leash.

--Try not to get caught between a female bear and her cubs.

--If you encounter a bear and it does not see you, stay calm and continue facing it while slowly backing away. True, this is easier said than done.

--If a bear does spot you or strolls into your camp, yell and make other loud noises and bang pots or pans together. Black bears do not like confusing unfamiliar noises.

--Do not run from a bear unless it's dangerously close. Running can trigger an attack response and no human can outrun a bear. 

--If a bear attacks fight back with whatever means you can muster. This doesn't work against larger and far more powerful grizzlies, but there are no grizzlies in California.

Lastly, do not let any of this spoil your mood or prevent you from visiting the woods. Your chances of seeing a bear might be fair, but your chances of getting injured by one are extremely slim. Happy Fourth and stay safe!

--Pete Thomas

Photo: A black bear hunts for fish along Taylor Creek near South Lake Tahoe, Calif. Credit: Associated Press