Even though fewer bears kill humans each year than dogs do, we all seem to have a fear of them whenever we go camping. Some of us are even afraid when we’re in a relatively safe RV — and with good reason. The truth is that over the years, human beings have destroyed much of the habitat bears and other wildlife used to live in. In the past decade, there has been a rise in bear attacks, mainly because we’ve intruded on their homes. Having an RV is a definite plus when it comes to wildlife attacks, which are quite common. However, it’s wrong to assume you’re entirely safe in an RV. For one thing, if the bear is strong enough, it may be able to rip apart the side of your vehicle with his paws and jaw. While these beasts may not have photographic memories, according to The American Bear Association, they do remember food sources for years. If your intruder successfully foraged for food and found it in or near another RV five years ago, it’ll definitely be sniffing around yours too. Here’s how you can prepare.
Keep Bears Away by…
- Not setting up camp near bear scat or tracks. Use your common sense. If you invade their home, they’ll try to eat your food and perhaps you and your family.
- Staying in a group. Most bear attacks happen to lone hikers and campers.
- Keeping your campsite clean. Throw away trash, far away from your RV. Don’t leave anything near your vehicle that a bear may mistake for food (coolers, plastic bags, candles). Pack everything in your RV when you’re ready to turn in for the evening.
- Staying calm if you see one. Don’t cower or run. According to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, you should just stand tall and speak in a loud, low voice while waving your arms. Back away slowly and at a diagonal. Stop moving if the bear begins walking towards you. Try backing away again in a few seconds.
- Not running away if a bear charges at you. Again, stand your ground, wave your arms and use that low, loud voice again. Don’t assume that the bear will attack you because he’s charging. Breathe and stay calm. Use bear spray if you have it.
- Making noise if a bear approaches your RV. Rattle pots and pans, throw heavy objects at the bear. Do not feed the bear and keep it away from whatever food there may be outside your RV.
- Being watchful. Bears are often found in forests or where there is thick brush. Be careful when hiking or boondocking far from civilization.
- Knowing the warning signs. If a bear is ready to attack, it will push its ears back and make loud noises. It will also paw the ground with its claws while swinging its head around. If it begins bluffing, it may eventually attack. In instances like this, you’re best to be equipped with bear spray.
- Keeping your dog on a leash. Fido is that hungry bear’s lunch so make sure he doesn’t try to pick a fight with a grizzly.
- Locking the doors to your car and RV. You’d be surprised how many bears find themselves trapped inside cars. These strong animals are fully capable of destroying your vehicles, too, if they can’t get free.
- Avoiding hiking very early in the morning or at dusk. These are the best hours for wildlife. Make sure to go out when it’s full daylight. Make noise if you’re in the woods and suspect there are animals. Wearing noisy trinkets and bells help. Just like you, the wildlife just want to be left alone so don’t surprise them into attacking you.
- Not approaching wild animals. Not all wildlife is scary to look at. If you see a cute animal, do not get too close, not even if it’s been injured and is in need. If you have a phone with you, contact a park ranger who will know what steps to take to rescue the animal and take it to the appropriate place. Do not touch the animals yourself.
- Keeping a safe distance. Most wildlife will not attack unless they feel threatened or they are surprised. Again, travel in a group, make noise and don’t get close to any wild animals.
Bear Spray: Does it Work?
The Alaska Department of Natural Resources representatives insist that bear spray is adequate protection if a bear does get aggressive with you. It also does not permanently harm them. As you may know, there have been numerous fatal grizzly bear attacks near Yellowstone National Park and officials there have really stressed that campers should carry bear spray in a holster. Without the holster, you risk accidentally spraying yourself.
Bear spray is, surprisingly, made from chili peppers. So, bear spray is really plain old pepper spray. The active ingredients induce tearing and temporary blindness. However, it costs about $60 a can and is made especially for encounters at 15 to 25 feet all the way to 50 feet away. Your regular pepper spray probably won’t project that far out so don’t try to save money by buying cheaper stuff online.
What if You Are Attacked?
Let’s say you sprayed and for whatever reason, you missed the bear, who was extra riled up after your failed assault. Retired Navy SEAL Clint Emerson explains in his book, 100 Deadly Skills: Survival Edition, that the only choice you have left to do is to lie down and play dead. You can’t outrun these beasts. According to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, a bear can run 50 yards in 3 seconds, which is about 40 miles per hour! All you can do is show as little threat as possible now that you’re cornered. Get onto your stomach or curl into fetal position. Cover the back of your neck always and, if you can, protect your stomach and major organs.
Hopefully, you’re not wearing the clothes you were cooking in so the bear will go away because you are not threatening at all. If it does claw or hurt you, call a park ranger or go to the campsite manager and get treated right away.
How to Protect Your RV and Car
In 2010, bears in Yosemite National Park caused $96,000 in damage to cars, according to National Park Service (NPS). These animals will break windows, crush roofs, bend frames and destroy RV walls. They do this if they are certain they’ll find food.
Luckily comprehensive insurance will take care of your car. Speak with an Auto Insurance Specialist (888) 772-4247 about adding comprehensive coverage to your auto policy before you go camping. If you do not have specialty RV insurance for your trailer, camper, pop-up or motorhome, now’s the time to buy it. Auto insurance will not be sufficient for an RV. Speak with an Insurance Specialist (866) 501-7335 about your specific insurance needs and get multiple rates from top carriers. Buy the right insurance for all your vehicles, and you will be covered for anything nature has in store for you on your adventures.
The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms, and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.