Be a Traveler, Not a Tourist !

The Bear Topic

 An important topic in the north !

Yukon River © Copyright by Ch. Breier

© Copyright by Ch. Breier


Especially on a tour in Alaska , the NTW & the Yukon, the probability to meet a bear is extremely high …

  Encounters with bears in the wild   

Behaviour in bearland

Yukon River © Copyright by Ch. Breier

© Copyright by Ch. Breier

 The most important thing is to keep calm.    


If a bear is still a while away from you, the first thing to do is to draw the bear's attention to yourself.   


As a rule, such an encounter takes place without any incidents.


Yukon River © Copyright by Ch. Breier

© Copyright by Ch. Breier

To signal your presence to the bear, simply wave both hands over your head and, depending on the distance, speak loudly and calmly at the bear.

If you are with several people, it is more effective if you line up next to each other, so you look bigger for the bear! The bear will notice you and will flee or continue his activity unimpressed.

If, on the other hand, the bear stops calmly and blocks your path, you'd better go back slowly or make a wide arc around him.

If the bear is already in the immediate vicinity and has noticed you, but does not retreat, you should not run away under any circumstances.  

This is the biggest mistake you can make in this situation, because the bear would immediately start the pursuit by his hunting instinct.

In no case imitate other animals like whistles, but talk quietly in normal voice position too the bear. Swinging your arms over your head is also a good idea.  

This eliminates the risk that the bear thinks you are another animal..

That bears are badly see is a misconception, according to the latest research bears can see very well, (comparable to us humans) but they rely more on their sense of smell.

You should avoid looking the bear directly in the eye, he would interpret that as aggressive behavior...

Please do not make any quick movements or even suggest them, but withdraw carefully.

When the bear follows, stop.

(as the Alaskans always say, stand your ground!)

And calmly and firmly talk to him. If the bear stands on his hind legs it is not a threat to you he just gets a better overview of the current situation!

If the bear starts an attack and comes running towards you, it is in 99% of the cases only a fake attack.

It's no fun, but you can't run away under any circumstances.

The bear will stop right in front of you and possibly show you his broadside.

That's just a sign he wants to show you he's the boss! When he starts to wuff and open and close his mouth then it is a sign of highest tension and stress of the bear!

( sometimes he has also foam on the mouth)

To distract an approaching bear from you, you can also drop an item (e.g. the backpack) and then slowly move away.   

The bear may then stop to take a closer look at the item and lose interest in you...

To have a can of pepper spray with you is also a good idea, but you have to pay attention from which direction the wind comes from, so that no wind blows from the front, because otherwise you will put yourselves out of action when the spray blows into your eyes...

After a well-directed strike with the pepper spray the bear is hopefully busy with himself for a while

But I wouldn't rely on that!

The cans are available in several different sizes. You should wear them ready to hand on man/woman.  

These pepper cans are not a 100% protection .

You should test the cans after the purchase once briefly, because it has already happened several times that they did not work at all.......Uuuuppppsssss....

A large bear spray can should last about 9 seconds, but I wouldn't rely on it either...


The Black Bear

Yukon River © Copyright by Ch. Breier

© Copyright by Ch. Breier

 In contrast to the Grizzly, the black bear is somewhat smaller and has no pronounced bump above the shoulders.   

Its coat is mostly black, but can also be brown or even white/yellow.     

You should therefore pay less attention to the colour and more to the figure of the bear.   


If a black bear attacks, he can be intimidated very well e.g. by yelling at him loudly.   

Stand up against a black bear at all costs!

Because unlike the Grizzly he will try to eat you as soon as he attacks.

To get in the so-called fetus position against a black bear is fatal  !

Take a strong branch. Sight his nose or eyes and strike with all the power your have. I know this isn't nice but it works immediately, I've already had to try it out a few times...

It is not advisable to try to escape up a tree, because the black bear is an excellent and agile climber


The Brown Bear, Grizzly   

The grizzly is more dangerous than a black bear.

Yukon River © Copyright by Ch. Breier

© Copyright by Ch. Breier

 Its coat is usually brown, but can also be light blond or even black.

Yukon River © Copyright by Ch. Breier

© Copyright by Ch. Breier

 A sure sign are the muscles /hump developed over his shoulders.

    Well nourished Grizzlys can weigh up to 700 kg!


Yukon River © Copyright by Ch. Breier

© Copyright by Ch. Breier

 The Grizzly has much longer claws than a black bear.  

(A very evil weapon)

If a grizzly attacks, do not strike back under any circumstances


Yukon River © Copyright by Ch. Breier

© Copyright by Ch. Breier

 The only chance you have during a Grizzly attack is to throw yourself on the ground and stand dead in the fetus position.  


Pull your knees and elbows towards your belly (to protect your soft tissues) and protect your face with your hands, if possible keep your backpack on.

Stay motionless and still in this position until you are ABSOLUTE sure that the bear has retreated.  


Grizzlys will bury their prey!!!

Saving yourself on a tree is one possibility, but Grizzlys can climb very well. They are also very, very fast.  


Yukon River © Copyright by Ch. Breier

© Copyright by Ch. Breier

     In Alaska they are sometimes also very big...

If they stand at a tree it can quickly be 3.50 meters. So high one must climb first of all in such a situation ... 


When something sneaks up on you...

Fortunately, it is extremely rare for a bear to stalk humans.   

If he should do it nevertheless then there is extreme danger to your life.   

Yukon River © Copyright by Ch. Breier

© Copyright by Ch. Breier

Cause that means the bear's on a prey, and that prey's is you. If you are sure that the bear is after you, then try to escape at all costs!

In such a situation everything is allowed for your own defense, including hitting, screaming, shooting and stabbing.

Because you are prey for him !

This is the only time you should strike back at a grizzly

Let the bear know under all circumstances that you are no easy prey...

If you are lucky then he is not comfortable with it and he disappears...

It already happened to me along the Yukon River on an island that a bear was behind me stepped right into my footsteps without me hearing or seeing him...

Only on the way back did I notice that. Bears are very good and very quiet hunters.

I was lucky, he lost interest in me for some reason, but he came to my tent during the night...

The topic of arms in the bush

Yukon River © Copyright by Ch. Breier

© Copyright by Ch. Breier

 Of course, you can take a weapon into the bush for your defense.  

© Copyright by Ch. Breier

       I do that almost every time I travel.

    ( please strictly follow the law ! )

© Copyright by Ch. Breier © Copyright by Ch. Breier
© Copyright by Ch. Breier © Copyright by Ch. Breier

It is better to have a weapon with you and not to use one than to need one and not to have one!

                This is my personal opinion  

It is up to everyone to decide if he carries a weapon or not, to attack / condemn everyone who has one is simply stupid and arrogant!  

However, if you take a weapon into the bush, you should be able to handle it 150%.

Nothing is worse than a loaded weapon in the hands of an absolute beginner!

The chance is very high that he endangers himself and others.   

Even if you can handle weapons, it is not a 100% protection, because a weapon to carry is not equal to use it correctly...  

You have to decide in a fraction of a second if and how to use it.  
If you injure a bear then not only yourself is in


but also all the other people in this area!!!   

Hunting has to be learned, this is not for beginners, even experienced hunters react wrong to a sudden attack of a bear !   

Unfortunately it happens again and again that bears are shot although ther still far away from the camp, just because the owner of the gun was simply too scared...

So, please only carry a gun if you be able to use it 100% save!

When using a pumpgun you should think about rubber bullets as an alternative, because you don't kill the bear with them, you only drive him away, even in a painful way !

Which is way better as to kill him...

The bear fence !


Yukon River © Copyright by Ch. Breier

© Copyright by Ch. Breier

 An Electric bear fence, is always good to have with you, you sleep much better in the Bush. The camp is also secured when you are away. Wouldn't be the first time that a bear was in the camp while the owner was in the bush for a hike. I use a model from Germany from the company www.weidezaun.info  





 Also a great thing is to pack a bearproof URSACK!

These bags are light and indestructible.

Even a bear can't get your food.  

Bear spray

 It's always a good idea to take bear spray with you, but I wouldn't rely on it alone, only use it in combination with URSACK and bear fence !

I have already used such a spray several times, problem is that you have to know in fractions of a second where the wind comes from, because against the wind you spray yourself...  

   Also such a spray does not work always 100%... 

Absolutely pay attention to the expiration date of the can and test whether it works at all, some cans make only schhhhhhh and nothing comes ....


 Well .....


In 30 years of travelling in the bush of Alaska and Canada for months at a time, I have had only two really serious encounters with bears ...

99% of my encounters with bears were just beautiful and fascinating.  

It is always great to see bears in the wild.


Yukon River © Copyright by Ch. Breier

© Copyright by Ch. Breier

 But bears aren't cuddly toys !

Yukon River © Copyright by Ch. Breier

© Copyright by Ch. Breier

 There's the "1% bear" that kills people all the time!   

You should be prepared for such a bear !


Because of that:

Yukon River © Copyright by Ch. Breier

© Copyright by Ch. Breier


1. Keep away from the bears, especially when photographing, use powerful telephoto lenses!

2. do not bring food or strong smelling things (also clothes!) into the tent. (toothpaste, chewing gum, soap ect...)  

3.women on their special days should pay most careful attention to cleanliness !  

4. Do not cook near or even in the tent.  

5. deposit the food a away from the tent, but within sight.  

6. do not go fishing before your camp. Tear the fish away from your camp !  

7. be very careful at river deltas !  

8. use a bear / electric fence.  

9. have a bear spray on  man / woman whenever possible. Especially when nature calls!  

(If you go to the toilet!)  

10. if you are walking in the bush, make noises so that bears hear you early enough and have the possibility to avoid you.  

(because they will in 99% of the cases," if they hear you !")

11. avoid camps with fresh bear tracks.  

12. do not camp on game trails.

 And last but not least

Yukon River © Copyright by Ch. Breier

© Copyright by Ch. Breier

The probability of being struck by lightning is much higher than the probability of being eaten by a bear!   

Yukon River © Copyright by Ch. Breier

© Copyright by Ch. Breier


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