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“Bear Necessities” for WA Fall Hunters, Hikers

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September 7, 2007

Seattle, WA – Fall hikes and hunting trips in the Washington wilderness can mean unexpected encounters with bears this time of year. This is the time when bears "max out" on calories before going into hibernation, which can make them more aggressive. Monica Fella of the Sierra Club's "Grizzly Bear Project" says the most effective safety precaution can be found at any sporting goods store. It's a can of bear pepper spray.

"Bear pepper spray does not have to be aimed precisely, like a gun would have to be. Plus, according to experts, there is no better way to stop an attack by an aggressive grizzly."

Fella says a call to the local ranger district to ask about recent bear activity is a good idea before you head out, and hunters should remember, a fresh kill is a strong lure for a bear.

"Field dress the carcass and get it out of there as quickly as possible. If a hunter would have a conflict over a carcass, it's really not worth it. Leave the area."

The Washington State University "Bear Research Program" also suggests making plenty of noise as you hike, staying on trails, camping away from streams and berry patches, and stowing food away from the bears' keen sense of smell. Find more bear safety information online at

Chris Thomas/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - WA