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Bear Aware

When in bear country the most important thing is to be aware of your surroundings, look at them from a bear's perspective, and always keep your distance from bears. But there's more...

Are you bear aware?

When in bear country the most important thing is to be aware of your surroundings, look at them from a bear’s perspective, and always keep your distance from bears. More "bear aware" information can be found at Western Wildlife Outreach's website. Or in the video below from our friend Chris Morgan. 

A quick list of "bear aware" tips

When hiking

Grizzly bears often search for small mammals and under food by digging up and flipping over rather large rocks. Ah, so that's what those claws are for! Photo by Chris MorganEnjoy the experience of watching bears from a safe distance. Never approach a bear.
• Learn about bear signs: overturned rocks, broken-up logs, scat, clawed trees, and digging are all indicators of bear activity.
• Don’t allow your dog to run free; it may lead a bear back to you.
• Never feed a bear. A fed bear is a dead bear.

At your campsite

• Keep a clean camp that is free of odors. Avoid areas that have been used by bears.
• Store food, garbage, cooking gear, etc properly. Lock these items in your car trunk if available, or cache them suspended from a branch or between two trees (15 feet from the ground and 5 feet from any tree trunk). Bear resistant food containers also work well.
• Remember the 100 yard rule: Locate your cooking/food storage area at least 100 yards downwind from your tent.
• Never leave food unattended. Never bury garbage.

At home

• Once a bear locates a source of food, it will return repeatedly and may become a nuisance. Make potential food items unavailable to bears including garbage, food scraps, pet food, compost, barbecue grease, bird feed, and fruit.

Grizzly bear or black bear?

Track of an Alaskan grizzly bear, which are bigger than the bears in the Rocky Mountains or Cascades. Photo by Chris Morgan• The facial profile of a grizzly bear is more “concave” than the straight nose profile of a black bear.
• A grizzly bear’s front claws are as long as a human finger, while black bear claws are much shorter and more curved to assist in climbing.
• Grizzly bear ears are shorter and rounder than black bear ears.
• The shoulder hump is much more pronounced on a grizzly bear than on a black bear.

Rare as the great bear is in Washington, any sightings of grizzly bears are very important! If you think you have seen a grizzly, and especially if you have have a photo or of field sign (large tracks or large digs), please report all sightings to 1-888-WOLF-BEAR or visit

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