July 14, 2014 3:50 pm

Tips on what to do when confronted by a bear

Would you know what to do if confronted by a bear? Saskatchewan Environment has some useful tips.

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REGINA – A healthy bear population in Saskatchewan has environment officials offering tips on what to do when confronted by one of the furry animals.

The most recent encounter happened last week when a man said he was confronted by a bear in La Ronge.

The bear broke off the pursuit when a couple out with their dogs came walking up the street.

That bear hasn’t been caught but another bear in the city was caught in a trap, bringing to six the number that have been captured so far this summer in the northern Saskatchewan city.

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It’s not just in communities where bears have been encountered; they have been known to wander through campgrounds.

“There have been a few encounters this year and we want to ensure residents are taking the necessary precautions when they are out enjoying our parks, campgrounds and natural areas,” said Kevin Callele with the Ministry of Environment.

“Generally bears are attracted by food and if they cannot find food they will often leave the area. Bears that have been fed lose their natural fear for humans.

“When bears start to associate food with humans, they become a nuisance, and potentially dangerous.”

So what do you do if you are confronted by a bear? Officials have these tips:

  • calmly back away and speak in low tones;
  • do not look directly at the bear;
  • do not run – you can’t outrun a bear;
  • move toward a large structure like a rock or a tree;
  • as a last resort, drop bags/backpacks – it may distract the bear;
  • if attacked, defend yourself – do not “play dead.”

There are steps that can be taken when camping to lessen the chance of a bear encounter:

  • never cook or eat in a tent;
  • store food in air-tight containers in the trunk of vehicles – never in tents or tent-trailers;
  • don’t leave garbage, scraps, or pet food lying around – place all garbage in containers provided;
  • do not burn or bury scraps;
  • clean fish only at designated fish-cleaning stations;
  • keep pets on a leash – an unleashed dog can aggravate a bear;
  • use a flashlight at night and do not move about the campsite at night unless necessary.

If a bear is encountered, officials say people should contact their local conservation officer or the T.I.P. line at 1-800-667-7561 or by cell phone at #5555.

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