bear hibernation Bear Attack Survival lead
When confronted by an angry bear, don't run or look for a tree to climb. Stand your ground and slowly back away.

Winter camping provides many of its own unique challenges and requires some research beforehand. One question that is asked quite often is, ”Do bears really hibernate all winter long?” While bears do indeed tend to hibernate in the winter, this does not mean there will be no bear dangers.

Most bears begin their hibernation in late September and October. They can remain in their dens for six to seven months at a time to reemerge in April. Contrary to common belief though, the bears are not in a coma-type state. Because of this you should never try to approach a hibernating bear. Bears have been known to temporarily leave their dens in winter to forage for food. A bear in hibernation is still a very real danger.

RELATED:Bear Attack Survival: Keys to Staying Safe

Hibernation dens are not always the classic “bear cave” and campers should be on the lookout for dens and bedding areas. Areas that can be possible bear dens are:

  • Large depressions 2 to 4 feet in diameter with matted foliage on the ground
  • Standing hollow trees
  • Rock crevices and caves
  • Burrows dug into a hillside
  • Under downed trees or in brush piles

Even in winter, bear safety must be practiced. Always follow proven animal safety guidelines.

  • Keep your camp area clean of all trash and uneaten food.
  • Secure all of your food (and trash) in a sealed container and hang it well above the ground and away from tents.
  • Store your trash just as you would your food. Uneaten food and general garbage have the potential to draw hungry bears in.
  • Seal and store any pet food just like you would with trash and other foods.
  • Try to avoid sleeping in the same clothes that you prepared your last meal in.

RELATED: 4 Tips For Surviving Off-Trail, Camping Dangers

This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE ™ Spring 2015 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.

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