Bear Safety

Hiking and Camping Tips

  • Remember to stay with a group of 3 or more and make noise in areas where you can't see far around you.
  • Watch for bears and be alert for fresh tracks and scat.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and listen for unusual noises like rustling in the bushes or grunting.
  • Don't forget that food attracts bears. Avoid cooking smelly or greasy foods.
  • If camping in an RV, store food inside the RV or safely in the trunk of your vehicle. Otherwise, place food in a bag, backpack or pannier and hang from a tree branch at least 10 feet from the tree trunk.
  • Sleep some distance uphill from your cooking area and food storage site. Keep sleeping bags and personal gear clean and free of food odor.
  • Pet food is a bear favorite! Keep all pet food and treats stored safely with all other food.
  • Pack all your garbage to a safe designated dumping area. Never bury it or leave it outside.
  • For areas where hunting is permitted be sure to keep game meat out of reach of bears.

Keep Your Distance

  • Stay 100 yards (91 meters) away from any bears!
  • Do not stop or block any portion of a roadway.
  • Keep all food, trash, and scented items bear-proof at all times. (Tents, truck beds, and unattended packs are not secure!)
  • In case of emergency, or if you notice anyone harassing or practicing unsafe behavior toward our bears, please call: Valdez Police & Fire 907-835-4560 or Animal Control 907-835-2286.
  • For more information on becoming Bear Aware, please review our City of Valdez Bear Management Plan.

What to do if you Encounter a Bear

If you have a surprise encounter with a bear, stay calm and DO NOT RUN. Don't scream or yell. Speak in a soft monotone voice and wave your arms to let the animal know you are human. If you have pepper spray, prepare to use it. Keep your hands in the air and back away slowly.

Brown Bear

Black Bear

When dealing with a brown bear:

If the animal makes contact, curl up into a ball on your side, or lie flat on your stomach. Be sure to cover the back of your neck with your hands and wrap your forearms around your face. Try not to panic; remain as quiet as possible until the attack ends. Be sure the bear has left the area before getting up to seek help.

When dealing with a black bear: 

If the animal makes contact, fight back. Unless you're physically unable, it's often better to defend yourself against a black bear than to curl up on the ground. Keep making noise and looking large throughout the encounter, but if you end up at close range, use any nearby object as a weapon to fend off the bear. If nothing useful is around, punch or kick the bear's nose. Do whatever is needed to scare it away, but focus on sensitive areas that are likely to get an immediate reaction. Try to create space between you and the bear, but never run away, make the bear do that.
Just cuz bear aware.JPGBlack Bear