Bear awareness in the field can save your life

When you think of bear attacks in the wilderness, what kind of bear comes to mind?  For most people, reports of bear attacks conjure images of grizzly bears.  But the truth is, black bears are actually more of a threat to those working in the field than their larger counterparts.

Although fatal bear attacks are rare, they can happen.  And even when an attack isn’t fatal, a bear can very seriously maim someone.  What makes a bear attack in the first place?  In most cases, bears attack because they are trying to gain access to food or trash.  So, if you are going to try to keep bears away from your worksite, one of the first lines of defense is to keep your area clean.  Don’t leave food or trash around as it will attract bears and could potentially lead to danger.

Another thing to remember in terms of bear awareness is that bears won’t typically attack humans in groups.  So, when you are working in an area that has a population of bears, always work in groups of at least three.  Never by yourself.  Bears won’t feel threatened by a single worker, but they will be much more likely to stay away from a group, even a small one.

It’s also a good idea to carry a bear repellant such as pepper spray.  This won’t necessarily stop a bear attack, but it will definitely incapacitate the bear long enough to buy you some time to get away.

One key aspect of bear awareness in the field is that there is a clear difference in the way a bear acts when he is being defensive and the way he will act when he is in predatory mode.  If the bear makes grunting noises and swats the ground with his paws and approaches slowly, these are all examples of defensive behaviour.  Remember:  The bear is afraid of you.  In these situations, the best idea is to give the bear some space and allow him to retreat.  He is not looking to hurt you.  He wants to get away and protect himself.


Predatory behaviour, on the other hand, involves a quick approach.  In these cases, time is of the essence.  You won’t be able to outrun a bear, so don’t try.  The best approach is to fend off the bear as best you can, with pepper spray, rocks, or even a knife or a gun if you have one.  Incapacitate the bear as much as you possibly can and then retreat to safety.

Bear attacks in the field are a serious threat to oil workers and others.  To keep yourself safe, it’s very important that you take the steps to create a safe work environment.  The first step in doing that is to ensure you are aware of potential threats and what to do when shouldyou encounter a bear in the workplace.