One of the first things I discovered about the Lake and Peninsula region in Alaska is that Grizzly Bears heavily populate the area. There are more Grizzly Bears than people in the district!
When I heard this, you could have probably seen me shaking in my boots. When I was 6 or 7-years-old, I remember watching an overly dramatic show on the Discovery Channel reenacting a hiking scene where a mother and two children got killed by a Grizzly. Since then, I’ve always had an irrational fear of wild animals in the woods. This doesn’t prevent me from exploring the outdoors, but it’s always been a nagging agitation in the back of my mind.
Of course, now I know how silly it is to be afraid of getting attacked by a bear. According to wildlife experts, bear attacks are “rare” and “for predatory, territorial, or protective reasons.” I asked Kate, a teacher at Newhalen School, what I should expect in terms of bear activity in our area. Kate told me, “The bears are pretty concentrated and pretty big here, so caution is always a good thing. Having said that, they’re usually big scaredy-cats and turn tail and run after you yell at them. Just being aware is the biggest thing; making noise when you hike, keeping food out of your tent, etc.”
Kate also recommended that I take some precautionary measures just in case. Therefore, I’m buying a few Grizzly Bear related items as pictured above and explained below:
1… This bear bell attaches to clothing or a backpack and rings to warn animals of your presence. Oftentimes, bears attack when they’re scared, so making noise when hiking is always a good idea.
2… Bear spray is always a good thing to keep on your belt while in bear country. The spray has a 30-foot deploy range and releases in 5 seconds. It doesn’t permanently harm the bear, but will distract them long enough for you to get away.
3… What’s a classroom without a mascot? I’m going to get this adorable Grizzly Bear plush for my class this year. His name will be Gus the Grizzly and students will be allowed to babysit him for the weekend and write about his adventures at their homes. I had a class mascot last year and the students absolutely loved it!
Last, I found this live Brown Bear & Salmon Cam shot in Katmai National Park. The park is in my district and gives you a good idea of how huge these Grizzlies actually are!
“If you’re going to be a bear, be a Grizzly.”