IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Pretty much everywhere in Idaho is bear country according to Idaho Fish and Game's regional communications manager James Brower. He says a possible bear encounter should always be in the back of your mind.
"Even if you're doing everything right, you know, things can happen. But there's a lot of things you can do to sort of increase your odds of coming out safely and having a successful trip and avoiding a bear encounter," Brower said.
For starters, Brower says you should always carry bear spray where it's easily accessible like strapped to your hip, and make sure you know how to use it.
"Encounters usually occurred a very short distance, they're not, you know it's not like the bears 300 yards away, and it just starts barreling at you," he said. "It's usually that the bears surprised you come around the corner, or it was in the bushes right nearby sleeping maybe, they just tend to happen in a really close distance and so there's not a whole lot of time to react."
Brower goes on to say making noise by wearing bells, talking or laughing with your group is also important. He recommends going in a group of three or more people.
"Making a noise is a really great way to make sure that bears hear you. And before you know you see them. So, most of the time, in almost all situations if a bear hears you coming, they're gonna get out all the way before you get to them and they'll smell you a lot of times to before you get there," Brower said.
Most of the attacks that happen in the united states are believed to be defensive.
"That's just a bear that's defending something that it wants, so whether that's a cub and it's trying to keep you away from its cubs, whether that's a kill site something that the bear's eating and feeding on that it wants to protect," Brower said.
Despite their populations, getting attacked by a bear is rare in Idaho according to Brower, and the possibility shouldn't keep you from enjoying the great outdoors.
"Don't avoid going out in the woods. You can do so safely and have a good time, but you just got to put some thought in."