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Why playing dead might save your life and other bear safety tips

‘If you think you are going to fight a grizzly, it’s not going to work out that well,’ Kim Titchener cautions

An expert in bear behaviour says how people react to bear interactions is critical to a positive conclusion. (Rick Price)Banff bears0:45

Titchener says how we react is critical to how the interaction will end.

“Once you become aware of the bear’s presence … just start backing away, giving the animal space,” she said.

“Don’t yell and scream at them. I’ve heard people think they should yell at the bear, use an air horn or shoot off a gun. Let them know you didn’t mean to surprise them, you are not trying to stalk them or take their food source or cubs.”

And bear deterrent spray can be helpful, if you are under attack.

“If you have bear spray, pull it out, pull the tab off and you are going to be spraying because things are going to be happening really fast. It is such an effective tool. When it hits the bear, the last thing on their mind is, I want to hurt that person, it’s self-preservation. They want to get out of there and get away from you.”

Titchener says there are lots of active things people can do to reduce problems when out hiking or enjoying the backcountry.

Kim Titchener, a Jasper-based bear expert, says playing dead is actually a good idea if you come across an aggressive bear and don’t have bear spray. That’s just one of many tips she offers to help mitigate interactions.(@KimTitchener/Twitter)

Travel in groups of four or more, look for scat, diggings, paw prints and berries and make lots of noise by using voices not music.

“We have this false impression that this means something to a bear, but a bear knows a human voice and when they hear multiple tones of voices coming along the trail, they just want to get out of there are away from us,” Titchener said.

“If we give them that opportunity we won’t have these encounters.”

Kim Titchener, founder of Bear Safety & More, has some tips about staying safe outdoors.6:49

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener

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