Most people go their entire lives without seeing a bear in the wild. But if you’ll be camping on Boulder Mountain, chances are you may have some company–even if you aren’t aware of it. According to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, the black bear is currently the only species of bear native to Utah. (The grizzly was extirpated in 1927.)
Bear Safety in Bryce Canyon Country
- Use airtight containers – Bears have a great sense of smell and love human food and other scented items like deodorant and sunscreen. Keep the container in your vehicle or in a tree, never in your tent.
- Cook away from your campsite – clean up all food scraps.
- Never, ever approach or feed a bear – either in an attempt to lure it in or chase it away. Prevention is the best deterrent. Make noise when hiking in bear country, especially in dense areas, and travel in groups.
- Protect children – keep children at the center of your hiking group.
- Carry bear spray – it could save your life in case of an attack.
- NEVER APPROACH A BEAR CUB – mom is sure to be nearby and won’t be happy to see you.
What To Do If You Encounter a Bear
- Stand your ground – when encountered by a black bear, do not back up or play dead. Standing your ground gives the bear time to walk away.
- Don’t run away or try to climb a tree – Black bears are masterful climbers and runners. They will outclimb you and outrun you.
- Don’t panic – when a bear stands up or grunts, it is trying to get a better look, not show signs of aggression.
What to Do If A Bear Attacks
- Spray the bear – Make sure that you have bear spray on you as studies have shown it is 92% effective at deterring attacks.
- Shoot to kill – Should you need to resort to a firearm, aim to kill. NEVER fire a warning shot.
- If all else fails, continue to fight back – people have fought off bears with nearly anything available. Use bottles, sticks, backpacks, and anything you can to fight back.
There are an estimated 1,500 to 3,000 black bears in the state, most making their homes in the high-elevation forests of the Boulder and Uintah mountains. The black bear has been a protected species in Utah since 1967. Most Utah black bears actually have a dark chocolate brown coat. Mature black bear males average 250 to 300 pounds, with females weighing in at around 150 to 180 pounds. They can live for as long as 20 years. June and July are breeding seasons with the young born around January and February. Cubs typically stay with momma bear for about a year and a half.
Bear sightings are rare and are often food-related. Bear encounters spiked on Boulder Mountain in June 2011 due to a lingering winter, when bears left their dens in search of food at lower elevations. As such, two young cubs were discovered peeking through some cabin windows, and one was found in the cab of a truck. Boulder Mountain’s Fish Creek area has been another source of bear sightings. A survey by Utah wildlife resource managers concurred that 80-percent of bear observations occur between 7,000 and 10,000 feet elevation, in areas with steep, rugged, forested topography.