Do you know how to respond if you come across a bear?
A black bear in captivity awaits handouts at the the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, Maine, July 25, 2014. (AP / Robert F. Bukaty)
VANCOUVER -- Would you know what to do if you were approached by a bear during a hike?
It happened last week in North Vancouver, and a 10-year-old was taken to hospital after being bitten by a black bear.
Over the weekend, another black bear chased after golfers in Coquitlam. Officials think it was attracted to food in their golf bags.
In light of recent incidents, an expert is providing tips for what to do during an encounter of the bruin kind.
Luci Cadman of the North Shore Black Bear Society says humans encounter bears almost every day in the area. Trails are busy, especially when the weather's good, so the chances of a sighting are increased.
Fortunately, physical encounters are rare, she said.
So what should people do if they see a bear? Cadman says it depends where it is.
"If you see a bear ahead of you in the distance, the best practice is actually back away and take a different route. We should never approach bears intentionally."
To avoid a surprise close encounter, hikers should use their voice on the trails, she said.
"Bears recognize human voices. When black bears hear people coming, they do not want to get close to us and their instinct is to retreat into the safety of a tree until you have passed," Cadman said.
But if you do end up face-to-face with a bear, Cadman said the best thing to do is to stay as calm as you can.
"Black bears by nature are not aggressive animals," she said, so a human staying calm helps the bear to stay calm.
Again, she recommends using your voice.
"In a nice, calm voice in any language, you speak to the bear to identify yourself as a human. As you calmly talk to that bear, you're going to slowly back away. That shows the bear that you're giving them personal space and respect."
The above advice applies not only to black bears, but to grizzlies as well.
"If you are spending time in their habitat, if you spend lots of time hiking, biking, camping in bear country, we absolutely recommend that you carry bear spray, that you learn when and how to use bear spray, and you carry it so that it is immediately accessible," Cadman said.
BC Parks officials advise not staring at the bear directly, as it may see this as a challenge.
The parks' site says turning your back and running could trigger an attack.
In the event of a defensive attack, the site says, use bear spray if you have it. If not, roll on your stomach, cover the back of your neck and play dead.
If it's a predatory attack, you'll have to try to escape if possible. If not, use whatever is at your disposal to fight. Read more about the difference in attacks and more safety tips in this BC Parks brochure.
Cadman was also asked what to do if your dog is provoking the bear.
"Offleash dogs are the cause of more than half of all negative wildlife encounters," she said.
"We highly encourage that when you're spending time in the parks, in the forest, that you keep your dog leashed."
She said dogs that aren't on a leash often wander ahead, or into the bushes, and can surprise bears. Dogs often run back to their owner, and the bear, feeling threatened, may follow.
Cadman was also asked about backyard bears. Watch the full interview above.
With an interview from CTV Morning Live's Jason Pires and Keri Adams