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How to avoid bears and what to do if you encounter one

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation offers the following tips to avoid bears and what to do if you do encounter a bear.

To minimize the chances of attracting bears, always make sure garbage is kept in sealed containers and pet food is not left outside. Never purposely feed wild bears.

In areas where bears are common, decrease the chances of a nuisance bear encounter by:

Rinsing outdoor trash containers with ammonia to eliminate odors.

Storing cooking grills inside or cleaning them of food residue after each use.

Considering taking down backyard bird feeders for the summer and early fall, as the birds have plenty of wild food sources during those months.

Upon sighting a bear, the best thing to do is to remain calm and leave the area to allow the bear to move along on its own. If a bear is encountered at close range, experts offer these safety tips:

Do not turn and run, as that might elicit a chase response in the bear.

Stand and face the bear, holding out your arms or jacket to appear as large as possible.

Try to retreat slowly, but don't block the bear's escape route.

If you cannot leave the area, make loud noises that could make the bear flee, such as yelling or banging on pots or pans.

Anyone whose outdoor activities increase the chances of a bear encounter can carry bear repellent spray with them.

In the unlikely event a bear charges to attack, you should aggressively fight back against the bear, according to the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Do not attempt to “play dead” during a black bear attack.

To report a nuisance black bear in areas north of Interstate 40, call Mike Plunkett, senior wildlife biologist, at 918-625-3910 or J.D. Ridge, senior wildlife biologist, at 918-617-1113.

To report a nuisance bear in areas south of I-40, call senior wildlife biologist Jeff Ford at 918-527-9918 or wildlife technician Matt Hensley at 918-260-3920.

Nuisance bears may also be reported to any local game warden. A game warden directory is available at wildlifedepartment.com.

Ed Godfrey

Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more... Read more ›

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