A fatal grizzly bear attack in Yellowstone was determined to be a mama bear protecting her young. Because of this natural inherent act the bears life was spared. While this was a tragic event is should serve as a reminder of the dangers of the back country. Back country wildlife are just that wild and unpredictable.
We must remember while we are ATV camping in the back country that we are visitors in the local wildlife’s habitat. Respecting the local wildlife and taking the proper precautions will help make your ATV camping adventure safer for you and the wildlife.
The back country can be home to all types of wildlife like bears, cougars, wolfs, snakes, elk, moose, and deer. It is a good idea to check with the local authorities or forest service before your camping trip about the types of wildlife in the area and any recommended precautions.
When traveling in the back country make your presence aware to the wildlife with noise. The noise from an ATV is usually sufficient but when hiking talk, sing or clap your hands to let the wildlife know of your presence. If you encounter a bear while riding your ATV, stop and rev the engine. The noise will usually scare the bear away.
If you see bears and/or cougars or signs of such wildlife around a potential campsite find another campsite. Remember you are a visitor and respect the locals. If you carry bear deterrent pepper spray (recommended) make sure you understand its purpose and how to use it. Bear spray is only meant to be used on charging or attacking bears. Never spray a passive bear to try to get it to leave the area.
Most wildlife will only attack when threatened or protecting their young however some will act in a predatory manner when seeking food. Use proper camping food storage and preparation. Keep your campsite clean. If a bear or other wildlife enters your campsite looking for food make noise, start your ATV and rev the engine in an attempt to scare the wildlife off.
Never attempt to out run a wild animal, stand firm with your group if possible, make noise and prepare to fight if necessary. In the case of a grizzly bear, play dead by laying on your stomach with your hands behind your head covering your neck. Again always check with the local authorities before your trip for recommendations.
If you encounter repeated visits to your campsite from a bear or other wildlife then contact the local authorities, make them aware of the situation and find another place further away to camp or pack up and head home.
Wild animal attacks on humans are rare but are always a possibility while ATV camping in the back country. There are several back country hazards that are rare but a possibility, most can be avoided with a little common sense while others require a little better understanding and preparation. Remember to always leave a campsite better than you found it! Learn to respect back country wildlife for your safety as well as theirs.