the past 10 years, black bear populations, and their subsequent
sightings, have been increasing on Fort McCoy and throughout the
Black bears may look
nonthreatening, but they are dangerous, and anyone seeing or
encountering them should not approach them.
bears have been in this area for many years, but not at the current
level," said David Beckmann, Fort McCoy Wildlife Biologist.
"Earlier reports, typically no more than one per year, generally
came from landowners or individuals in areas along Highway 16 and near
the North Flowage."
black bear populations and distribution slowly are increasing in and
around Fort McCoy, including the cantonment area, encounters with a
bear remain rare. A few people have had the unique opportunity to see
a bear while traveling through the installation; others have only seen
photos or heard the stories. Reports of human-bear confrontation or
attacks also are very rare.
typically will avoid human contact whenever possible," said
Beckmann. Attacks happen when a bear is surprised or startled, or
someone comes between a female (sow) and its cub.
a larger bear population, the risk of a bear attack may increase,
especially if the bear feels threatened or human actions attract
bears. The best way to reduce the chance of confronting a bear is to
take proper safety precautions. Many of the guidelines also apply in
good part to other animals. Remember these are wild animals, and
although they may be conditioned to be tolerant of human presence,
people should not approach bears under any circumstances.
following safety tips can help reduce the dangers.
avoid attracting a bear:
not leave food or food scraps in the open, especially at night
close or cover garbage cans and composting piles. If possible, place
garbage cans in an enclosure or building.
a bear is getting into garbage cans or another food source such as a
bird feeder, remove the source for a period of time.
encountering a bear:
all, remain calm. Black bears generally are not confrontational.
you see a bear and the bear does not see you, back away quietly.
are curious. If a bear sees you, get its attention while it is a good
distance away by talking or making noise. This will alert the bear to
your presence. If a bear cannot identify you, it may come closer or
stand on its hind legs to get a better look or smell. A standing bear
usually is curious, not threatening.
bears will charge and then turn away in a bluff; stand your ground and
do not run.
some dogs, bears are excited by the chase. A bear can run up to 30
mph. There is no way you could outrun a bear.
feed or toss food to a bear.
you are carrying gear (bag or camera), toss it away from you on the
ground, the bear may be distracted by the object and leave you alone.
back a bear into a "corner" or get between a sow and her
cubs. A bear will exhibit threatening behavior (popping its jaw or
swatting the ground) to let you know that you are too close. If this
happens, move away slowly.
you are attacked by a black bear, stand your ground and fight back.
Act fierce, yell, scream, and try to punch the bear in the eyes or
snout. This may daze it enough for you to get away.
to do while camping:
storing food in your tent.
the site clean. Dispose of all garbage, put food away and wipe down
foods that have strong smells; try to keep the smell of food off you
and your clothing.
scraps, and garbage all mean food to a hungry bear.
out hiking on a trail:
not surprise bears close up. Dont sneak around; letting bears know
you are in the area well in advance will help avoid confrontations. If
possible, travel with a group. Groups are noisier and easier for bears
can be out at any time but are most active at dawn and dusk.
your dog at home or at the campsite bears and pets dont mix.
or other signs of bear activity at McCoy should be reported by calling
(608) 388-5374 or (608) 388-2308.