Wildlife safety

Asked October 11, 2015, 3:37 PM EDT

My girlfriend is paranoid about bears while hiking and backpacking in the woods, to the point where she couldn't sleep in the woods overnight when we went backpacking because she was worried about every little noise. How likely is she to actually encounter a bear while in the woods in Oregon, and what can she do about it?

Multnomah County Oregon

1 Response

If you are hiking in Oregon, then you may encounter bears. I'd say it is a rare event, and certainly not an impossible event.

There are a lot of websites focusing on safety in bear country, with great advice. Here is one:


Camp safely

  • Keep campsites and campfire areas clean.
  • Sleep at least 100 yards from cooking/eating areas.
  • Keep dogs on leashes or in cars.
  • Never pick up a bear cub ― its mother has left it there and will return.
  • Stay clear of berry patches.
  • Don’t leave soap, suntan lotion, candles, scented items outdoors or in tent.
  • Pitch your tent away from dense brush or trees ― avoid what might be an animal trail to a river or stream
  • Use a flashlight at night.
  • Don’t camp or hike alone.
  • Teach children about bear safety.

Hike safely

  • Avoid trails with bear tracks or bear sign.
  • Make noise when hiking so as not to surprise a bear.
  • If you see a bear, leave the area.
  • Stay far away from cubs―mother is nearby.
  • Leash dogs. A loose dog may lead a bear back to you.
  • Don’t hike after dark.
  • Consider carrying bear spray in areas known to have bears