Bear Country Safety
Tips for camping and hiking in bear country
Be aware that Mount Magazine is home to bears. The Mount Magazine District of the Ozark National Forest has one of the highest bear populations in Arkansas.
Black bears rarely attack humans. They sometimes "bluff charge" but will usually back away. When they do attack, the encounter is rarely fatal.
Bears are potentially dangerous, however, if they become habituated to human food and garbage. Feeding bears whether intentionally or not is illegal. This increases the potential for human injury and private property damage. And it can result in the death of a bear. A fed bear is ultimately a dead bear.
The staff at Mount Magazine State Park is working to prevent problems without bringing injury to any bears. "Bear resistant" trash cans have been installed in the park; however, bears are very intelligent and some have learned to open them. Our rangers patrol the park and discourage nuisance bears.
Bear country safety depends of the cooperation of park visitors, too. You can learn more about bears and the other wildlife that inhabit Mount Magazine by attending the nature programs offered by park interpreters. You can help by following the guidelines listed below.
- Never feed bears or other animals in the park. They will return in search of another free meal. If you ignore this advice, future visitors will have to deal with the problems we've created.
- Do not leave food out for your pets.
- Dispose of your trash in the park's bear resistant containers. Do not overfill or stack garbage outside the containers. Be sure the latches engage as you close the container's door.
- Store all food and ice chests in your vehicle with the windows up.
- Do not dispose of grease or food scraps in your campsite's fire pit.
- Keep your pet inside as much as possible, and always on a leash when outdoors.
- Never keep foods, toiletries, or scented items in a tent.
Mount Magazine is home to black bears because of the rich natural environment found here. Abundant food, space, and den sites provide a very healthy habitat to support a dense population of bear and other wildlife. Bears are an important part of the history on Mount Magazine. Native Americans and settlers encountered and hunted them. You might encounter one as a part of your park experience atop Mount Magazine, too. Be aware of bears as you enjoy your visit to Mount Magazine State Park. If you are lucky and alert, you will likely see a bear.
If You Encounter a Bear
- DO NOT RUN. This may stimulate a bear's instinct to chase.
- IF THE BEAR HAS NOT SEEN YOU, stay calm, back away slowly, and give the bear room to escape.
- IF THE BEAR HAS SEEN YOU, speak softly and back away slowly while facing the bear. If you have small children with you, pick them up so that they don't run or panic. Give the bear plenty of room to escape.
- TRY TO SHOW THE BEAR that you may be dangerous to it. Make yourself appear larger by standing tall and opening a jacket or shirt. Make a lot of noise, yell, and bang pots or pans.
- FIGHT BACK IF A BLACK BEAR ATTACKS YOU. Use rocks, sticks, binoculars, cameras, or any object that is available.
Backpacking in Bear Country
While hiking or backpacking in bear country keep in mind:
- Enjoy the woods. You will be lucky if you see a bear.
- Bears are most active at dawn and dusk.
- Watch for tracks and scat.
- Use extra caution in brushy areas and berry patches.
- Make noise, sing or talk to avoid surprising a bear.
- Keep a clean campsite.
- Hang food and toiletries 10 feet high and 10 feet away from a tree trunk and 50 feet away from camp.
- Pack it in, and pack it out.
For more information contact: Mount Magazine State Park, 16878 Hwy 309 South, Paris, AR 72855, phone: (479) 963-8502, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org