When camping in southwestern parts of the nation, it is important to keep bear safety in mind. The most common species in this region is the black bear. It inhabits many wooded areas and may live near rivers in arid locales. These tips can help you stay safe:
1. This large brown or black animal usually comes in contact with humans when convenient food sources are located nearby. It normally avoids humans unless it becomes familiar with them. To prevent this, cooperate with fellow campers to eliminate any food sources.
2. If you camp with pets, do not leave cat or dog food outside where wild animals can find it. Make sure the bears cannot easily access water bowls or bags full of trash. Avoid camping near any fruit-bearing trees or gardens that could attract a hungry bear.
3. Black bears climb well, so a fence must measure six feet or taller to deter them. Some fences provide surfaces they can easily grip. Outdoor lights usually will not prevent this animal from entering a camping area.
4. When you see a distant bear, change direction to avoid it. Never run away from this animal or it will chase you. If it comes in contact with you, do your best to behave calmly and back up at a slow pace.
5. It is rare for a black bear to act aggressively. If one attacks you, use any weapons you have available. Pepper sprays or stones may prove helpful. As soon as possible, contact the local authorities for emergency assistance.
6. If you feel the need to shoot a bear, remember this is only legal in some situations. Arizona permits it when bears endanger humans, farm animals are killed or gun owners obtain the appropriate hunting license. Do not use a firearm near someone else’s home unless it is absolutely necessary.
Basically, it is wise to avoid providing any convenient sources of food or water on your campsite. A carefully selected camping location can also enhance bear safety. Remember to exercise extreme caution and try to avoid direct contact.
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