Hiking and camping restrictions are occasionally in effect as a
result of bear activity. Never camp in an area that has obvious evidence
of bear activity such as digging, tracks, or scat. Odors attract bears,
so avoid carrying or cooking odorous foods. Keep a clean camp; do not
cook or store food in your tent. All food, garbage, or other odorous
items used for preparing or cooking food must be secured from bears.
Most backcountry campsites have food poles from which all food, cooking
gear, and scented articles must be suspended when not being used. Treat
all odorous products such as soap, deodorant, or other toiletries in the
same manner as food. Do not leave packs containing food unattended, even
for a few minutes. Allowing a bear to obtain human food even once often
results in the bear becoming aggressive about obtaining such food in the
future. Aggressive bears present a threat to human safety and eventually
must be destroyed or removed from the park. Please obey the law and do
not allow bears or other wildlife to obtain human food.
Sleep a minimum of 100 yards (91 meters) from where you hang, cook,
and eat your food. Keep your sleeping gear clean and free of food odor.
Don't sleep in the same clothes worn while cooking and eating; hang
clothing worn while cooking and eating in plastic bags.
Considering bears' highly developed sense of smell, it may seem
logical that they could be attracted to odors associated with
menstruation. Studies on this subject are few and inconclusive. If a
woman chooses to hike or camp in bear country during menstruation, a
basic precaution should be to wear internal tampons, not external pads.
Used tampons should be double-bagged in a zip-lock type bag and stored
the same as garbage.
If you are involved in a conflict with a bear, regardless of how
minor, report it to a park ranger as soon as possible. Another's safety
may depend on it. Exceptional combinations of food, shelter, and space
draw grizzlies to some parts of Yellowstone more than others. In these
Bear Management Areas, human access is
restricted to reduce impacts on the bears and their habitat. Ask at
ranger stations or visitor centers for more information.
Yellowstone is home to both grizzly and black bears. Although the
risk of an encounter with a bear is low, there are no guarantees of your
safety. Minimize your risks by following the guidelines below:
Make bears aware of your presence on trails by making loud noises
such as shouting or singing. This lessens the chance of sudden
encounters, which are the cause of most bear-caused human injuries in
the park. Hike in groups and use caution where vision is obstructed.
Do not hike after dark.
Avoid carcasses; bears often defend this source of food.
If you encounter a bear, do not run. Bears can run over 30 miles per
hour, or 44 feet per second, faster than Olympic sprinters. Running may
elicit an attack from otherwise non-aggressive bears. If the bear is
unaware of you, detour away from the bear. If the bear is aware of you
and nearby, but has not acted aggressively, slowly back away.
Tree climbing to avoid bears is popular advice but not very practical
in many circumstances. All black bears, all grizzly cubs, and some adult
grizzlies can climb trees. Running to a tree may provoke an otherwise
uncertain bear to chase you.
Some bears will bluff their way out of a threatening situation by
charging, then veering off or stopping abruptly at the last second. Bear
experts generally recommend standing still until the bear stops and then
slowly backing away. If a bear makes physical contact, drop to the
ground, lie face down, and clasp your hands behind your neck. It may
take all the courage you have, but lie still and remain silent.
Resistance will only provoke the bear. Before moving, listen and look
around carefully to make sure the bear is no longer nearby.