I’ve provided some links and comments to several bear encounter stories, many of them being recent. The most recent was the story of Samuel Ives being dragged out of his tent by a black bear while camping in Utah.

When incidents like this happen, all too often in my opinion officials downplay the seriousness of the potential dangers all of us face while being out in bear country. Should we stay inside and let fear stop us from enjoying being outside? Of course not. We just need to be better educated in how to deal with bears and share the same woods.

Just the other day, a dad killed a bear with a stick of firewood after it attacked one of his kids. In that case, officials say the bear was lured to the campsite because of improper handling, care and storage of food. The father received a $75 fine for not adhering to the rules.

With these stories making headlines all across the country, many media outlets have decided to go find their sources of “experts” who are willing to give some advice. John Holyoke, outdoor writer for the Bangor Daily News, went and talked with Randy Cross, Maine’s field expert on black bear management for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

You can read Holyoke’s article here which includes information about black bear habits and things you can do to reduce the chances of encountering a bear in the woods, while camping or in your own back yard.

I will have to take issue with one comment that Cross makes about the frequency of bear attacks in the U.S.

“I think it’s remote out there [in Utah] as well,” he said. “It’s not like it happens five times a year or even five times in a decade. We’re talking about something that happens less than five times in a century … almost anywhere you want to go.”

From the information I have read, there have been 49 recorded incidents of death resulting from the attack of just black bears in North America. 29 of those deaths have been since 1990. This is far more than 5 in a century, unless of course Cross was referring only to Maine of which I am not sure.

Regardless, bear attacks resulting in death are not real common but they do happen and are happening more frequently these days. So, spend some time and learn a bit more or refresh your knowledge about bears and how to deal with them.

Tom Remington