Bears of North America and Hiking

More About Bears

I do not carry bear spray while hiking in Washington State. I never have and probably never will. However I do carry pepper spray for self protection from humans. You actually have a 60,000 times better chance of being murdered by a human than a bear in Washington.

Washington State however used to have a grizzly bear population.

Grizzly Bears

The grizzly bear is said to be a part of the cascade wilderness area according to North American Bear Center

According to The North Cascade Institute for Environmental Learning in 1860 there were approximately 1000 grizzly bears in the North Cascades of Washington State. That number soon declined to approximately 650.

Human attacks can happen and can be extremely dangerous. The most recent being in Montana in 2021 where the grizzly was protecting its food a moose near by. Most attacks are by females protecting their young.

Grizzly Bear Population

The second largest removal of the grizzly population happened when prospectors came to the North Cascades in search of gold. The number declined another 200.

Finally with open grazing and the final push out west the last one was located in 1967 in the Glacier Peak Wilderness of Washington State.

The last confirmed tracks in mud were located in the North Cascades in 1996 and in Canada in 2010.

The following Native American story was used to tell about the grizzly bear. It is symbolic with hot rocks being shots and the coyote being an animal that is a trickster, perhaps man.

from Teresa Anahuy, Yakama

Black Bear

Chances are if you hike long enough you’ll encounter a black bear in Washington State. It is estimated there are between 25,000 to 30,000 black bears.

They range in color between a cinnamon brown to black.

Black bears can startle you because of their quiet demeanor and large size but are in general not harmful.

The biggest misconception according to American Bear Center is females are dangerous if their young is present or you get between them. The centers best advice is speak calmly and back away slowly. If a bear becomes nervous it will “bluster” and really it is trying to communicate it is nervous and has a problem with you. None of the bears I’ve encountered at Mt. Rainier have ever shown a sign of being bothered with me.

Startled black bears often run up a tree so if you are bothered by them, your best bet is just to walk on by and continue to talk calmly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s