Washington state officials are telling campers not to fear bears they may encounter in the wild, but to be aware.
According to the Yakima Herald, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates roughly 25,000 to 30,000 black bears live in Washington, often roaming the same areas of the Cascades as hikers or other outdoor enthusiasts.
Black bears are smaller and pose less danger than grizzly bears, which are extremely rare in Washington. Records show the state’s only death caused by a black bear came when one attacked a 4-year-old girl near her home in Glenwood in 1974.
Bears have only accounted for 45 fatalities in North America since 1970.
A good idea when hiking in the wild, whether in the Cascades or any other places where bears live, is to carry bear spray, available at Amazon.com and in outdoor stores. It is also for rent by the day in some bear-country national parks.
Wearing bells to make noise to alert bears to you is no longer considered a foolproof way to avoid encounters. Like the joke goes: “How can you tell if the poop on the trail is from a bear?” Answer: It has bells in it.
Read more in the Yakima Herald.