Yellowstone National Park has unveiled a new awareness campaign for park visitors of all stripes: “A Bear Doesn’t Care.”
The gist? You should always carry bear spray. Always.
Whether you’re backpacking deep in the backcountry or just strolling around Bunsen Peak, angling for trout or trying to get the perfect shot along the banks of the Firehole, the Park encourages you to be mindful and prepared for a bear encounter—and to remember that a wild bear doesn’t think you’re its new cool friend when you cross paths. From a Yellowstone press release:
“A bear doesn’t care how far you’re hiking, if you’re just fishing, or even if you work here,” says Superintendent Dan Wenk. “No matter who you are or what you are doing, you should always carry bear spray and know how to use it.”
Recent data collected by park scientists revealed that only 28 percent of visitors who enter the park’s backcountry carry bear spray. Studies show that bear spray is more than 90 percent effective in stopping an aggressive bear, in fact, it is the most effective deterrent when used in combination with our regular safety recommendations—be alert, make noise, hike in groups of three or more, and do not run if you encounter a bear.
“Yellowstone visitors care deeply about preserving bears and observing them in the wild,” says Kerry Gunther, the park’s Bear Management Specialist. “Carrying bear spray is the best way for visitors to participate in bear conservation because reducing potential conflicts protects both people and bears.”
The “A Bear Doesn’t Care” campaign will primarily appear in retail outlets, magazine ads, as well as through social media. A roster of celebrities (both local and [inter]national) have signed on to show off the benefits of bear spray through posters and other materials, including alpinist Conrad Anker, artist Jennifer Lowe-Anker, National Geographic photographer Ronan Donovan, actor Jeff Bridges, writer Todd Wilkinson, and fly fisherman Craig Matthews, among others, which we’ve embedded throughout this article.
You can see some of the posters online at the National Park Service’s Yellowstone site.
Park rangers will be hosting bear spray demonstrations at Yellowstone visitor centers throughout the summer. They will also be available to local groups who want to know more about bear attacks, how humans contribute to adverse bear encounters, how to avoid bear attacks, and proper bear spray use.
For more information about bear spray and where to get it in Yellowstone, click here.