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In bear country it's important to know the proper protocol when meeting a grizzly bear. In his new book "Hiking with Grizzlies: Lessons Learned," hiker and bear advocate Tim Rubbert gives the low-down on how to behave when you're walking through bear habitat.
"Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to hiking in bear country," says Rubbert, who has been hiking among grizzly bears in
Montana and Alaska for more than 20 years. "The more you know, the better you will react when you meet a bear."
Rubbert's trail-tested techniques are based on extensive personal experience. In the last eight years alone, Rubbert has hiked more than 10,000 miles and experienced more than 800 sightings of grizzly bears. Nearly every close encounter ended with the bear running away, which Rubbert says is the most common outcome if the hiker knows what to do.
Rubbert describes how grizzlies typically react to a hiker in various situations. What makes some bears charge while others run away? What's the best way to avoid confrontations altogether? When is it time to pull out the bear spray? Important lessons cover making noise, remaining calm, staying together, retreating, and encountering surprised bears, habituated bears, bears with cubs, and bears on carcasses.
In a very educational feature not found in other bear books, Rubbert uses photographs of bears during actual encounters to show how the bears reacted. He also analyzes each encounter to determine what happened and why.
Rubbert is a strong advocate of carrying bear spray, and readers will gain life-saving knowledge about how to use bear spray in real-world situations. Rubbert describes two backcountry incidents when hewas forced to spray bears, once when Rubbert was charged by a female grizzly with a cub and another time when he drove off a grizzly that was mauling a hiking partner. Both incidents took place in Montana's Glacier National Park.
What's the most important advice for hikers who encounter grizzlies? "Remain calm and still," says Rubbert. "Of course, every encounter is an adrenaline rush, but knowing what to do and being prepared for an encounter makes it easier to remain calm."
Rubbert's clearly explained hiking strategies and his numerous first-hand descriptions of bear encounters will help anyone travel in bear country with far greater safety and confidence.
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