Did you know that…
In 1999, a typical year, 5 million people in Quebec participated in nature-related activities and spent 395 million days, or 79 days per person? In Quebec, six deaths caused by the black bear have been reported in the past 30 years.
Also, did you know that in the past 100 years, each human death from a black bear in North America has approximately 17 deaths from spiders, 25 from snakes, 65 from dogs, 180 to bees and 350 in lightning? (Source: Fauna and flora of the country)
General information and some advice:
In the forests of Quebec, Maine and New Brunswick, black bears are found. Reputed to be discreet and fearful, the fact remains that it is an imposing beast which can constitute a threat. He is not looking for confrontation and he is mostly obsessed with food.
Be careful and hang your supplies, pots and pans, and even toothpaste and soap on food racks, when available. There are some in all the shelters and campsites of the SIA, with the exception of those located in the Matapedia Valley and in the Gaspésie national park (use the dry toilet cabin as a depot).
Signal your presence by carrying objects that produce rattling, bear bells, talk, sing. You can also bring a whistle attached to the outside of the backpack, a fog horn or even Cayenne pepper.
What to do during a meeting with the black bear?
If you encounter one, stay calm and take the time to analyze the situation.
If he hasn't seen you, admire him from afar and walk away silently.
If he saw you, stop walking. Talk to him very softly. Wave your arms. Do not shout or make sudden movements. Keep eye contact and leave it a flight corridor. Walk away without turning your back on him and speaking softly so that he knows that you are a human being and not a prey.
If he approaches you, avoid looking him in the eyes, try to find tools of persuasion or defense (stick, oar, knife, rock), distract him by dropping objects, assert yourself ( speak loudly). Do not run, which would cause his predatory instincts. As a last resort, throw your provisions away.
In the event of an attack, defend yourself with cayenne pepper or whatever comes in hand, use natural obstacles (rocks, trees) as a shield. Don't forget to shout, which could alert other people to the trail. Climbing a tree can be a solution; adult bears do not spontaneously climb on it. It is better to face the black bear than to play dead.
Frank Wihbey from Maine tells us: "In my hundreds of thousands of hikes in the woods, I have never met one, not once!"
Updated June 4, 2009.