Not too long ago I wrote a post about bears and posted some photos of various individual bears I have encountered in my treks. So I thought I'd refresh the subject--briefly--since I am going to be camping and walking about in grizzly bear country in less than a week.
I can't count the total number of bears whose paths I have crossed in my years of wandering about in the forests. Many. Since I've done almost all of my adventuring here in the east coast where only black bears live, that is the species I have most encountered. And even though black bears attack (and sometimes kill) more people than do grizzly bears, it's the griz who get all of the bad publicity.
Yesterday there was a story of a man who was killed and partially devoured by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park. One part of the story struck me because he was killed in an area that I had very seriously considered hiking when I was in Yellowstone, but ended up not doing because I chose to go elsewhere. It was on a medium-sized mountain called Elephant Back. The trail was relatively easy, I had read, and had the payoff of some good views and some solitude.
There are many more dangerous things that can happen to you in the wilds than running into a Grizzly bear. Lightning strikes are a much more likely threat than meeting up with an irate griz. A bison or a moose will gore or trample you before a grizzly bear would consider doing the same thing to you. Basically, being hurt by any kind of animal while hiking or backpacking is pretty darned rare. I'm far more frightened of being hit by a car or being shot by a nut with a gun than I am of being attacked by a bruin.
Still, I will be hiking in what is likely the densest grizzly bear population in the lower 48 states. So I will carry my bear-strength canister of pepper spray. And I'll be sure to make a lot of noise while I'm in the bush so that I have less of a chance of surprising the big ol' beasties. However, I do not want to get mauled and eaten by a grizzly bear, so I will take all due precautions.