Black bear cub running from people in the underbrush

Bear Safety Tips

With a name like the “Bear Track Inn”, you can expect that bear sightings near the lodge and around Gustavus are not few and far between! While bears typically aren’t combative toward humans and prefer their solitude, it is normal to feel intimidated at the thought of running into one. Here are some tips to follow that will help keep both you and the bear safe if you encounter one of these fascinating animals:

Make Noise

Chat with your hiking buddy or group so any nearby animals can hear you coming and your chances of startling a bear are reduced. If you set off on a hike by yourself, we recommend tying bells or some other kind of noise maker to yourself or your gear.

Pick Up After Yourself

When camping or stopping for a snack break, be sure to clean up all waste and not to leave food lying around. Never taunt a bear with food as that may cause it to become aggressive.

Avoid Instigation

If you see a bear from a distance, it’s important to view from afar and not to get any closer than necessary. Certain areas draw heavy bear traffic, such as around streams and berry bushes. If you find yourself in one of these areas, put effort into making yourself noticeable so as not to surprise a bear while it is sourcing food. Be especially cautious if you see a bear with cubs as a female may become aggressive if she perceives danger toward her babies.

Remain Calm

If you do encounter a bear, first determine whether or not the animal has spotted you. If the bear did not see you, slowly and quietly back away without taking your eyes off the bear – do not turn your back on it. We recommend walking away sideways so as not to trip and to maintain a non-threatening stance should the bear see you. If the bear does see you, remain confident and speak to it in a loud but low tone. Try to make yourself look as large as possible by moving to higher ground if the situation permits. Do not run, yell, make sudden movements, or try to attack a bear.

For your additional safety and peace of mind, we do have bear mace available for you to bring on a hike. If you choose to take the pepper spray with you, a member of our staff will demonstrate how to properly use it. However, most of our guests find that knowing and following these guidelines is the best way to keep yourself safe out here in bear country!