With recent bear sightings in Conestoga Township near Pequea (evening of June 24), Colemanville Church Road (June 26 at around 6:16 am), and the 600 block of River Hill Road (morning of June 26), here is some advice on hiking with the creature.
Being noisy on the trail is an excellent method of alerting a bear to your presence. This can be done by singing, whistling, talking, occasionally clapping your hands, or hiking with children. When are kids ever quiet? The goal is not to surprise the bear. Make extra noise when you are near loud natural features such as rivers and streams. Other places to make plenty of noise are when approaching trail blind spots such as sharp turns or hill crests.
While bear bells may be a popular item to wear, they do not effectively warn the creature of your presence until you are too close.
Hike in a Group
Hiking in a group will decrease your chances of surprising a bear. For starters, groups tend to be noisier than solo hikers. In addition, bears are more likely to be able to see, hear, and smell a group of three or more. Hiking in a group also increases the odds of at least one person noticing the bear before a surprise encounter.
Be alert while on the trail, and always be on the lookout for bears. Keep an eye out for fresh tracks, scat, other signs (torn up logs, digging, fresh claw marks on trees), and carrion (carcasses) in the area.
Never Surprise a Bear
If you see a bear before it sees you, slowly and calmly back away while keeping an eye on the bear. Never approach a bear that does not see you. This could surprise the bear, which may cause it to react negatively.
Avoid hiking at dawn, dusk, and at night. These are the time periods when bears are most active. They are often foraging or hunting during these times.
Appreciate these powerful creatures from a distance and leave them alone. Millions of Americans live amongst bears every day. We can do the same. Do not try to feed the bear. They are said to enjoy bird feeders, especially hummingbird food. Do not leave any food out at night or open trash containers.
Moment of Zen
Here’s your moment of Zen. Here’s a video of a bear swimming in the Susquehanna River near Pequea.