Beware: Bears Eat Wild Huckleberries Too!

Warnings are being posted in the Pacific Northwest huckleberry areas reminding pickers that bears eat wild huckleberries too!

With so many pickers in the bear’s habitat, precautions should be discussed before going out to pick at your favorite huckleberry picking spot.

One such encounter was reported by the Fairfield Sun Times:

(In West Glacier, Montana,) a Kalispell woman in her thirties collided with what is believed to be a young grizzly bear while trail running on Huckleberry Lookout Trail. She was able to walk back down the trail with friends and met the rangers just as they arrived at the trailhead. The woman self-transported to Kalispell Regional Medical Center for further treatment and evaluation. …

The last injury by a grizzly bear was on August 27, 2016 when a park employee, while off duty picking huckleberries in the Swiftcurrent Valley, surprised what was believed to be a grizzly bear. She sustained non-life-threatening injuries to the leg and hands. …

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Should you encounter a bear while picking huckleberries, here are some tips from the National Park Service:Beware: Bears Eat Wild Huckleberries Too!

Avoiding an Encounter

Following viewing etiquette is the first step to avoiding an encounter with a bear that could escalate into an attack. Keeping your distance and not surprising bears are some of the most important things you can do. Most bears will avoid humans if they hear them coming. Pay attention to your surroundings and make a special effort to be noticeable if you are in an area with known bear activity or a good food source, such as berry bushes.

Once a bear has noticed you and is paying attention to you, additional strategies can help prevent the situation from escalating.

  • Identify yourself by talking calmly so the bear knows you are a human and not a prey animal. …
  • Stay calm and remember that most bears do not want to attack you; they usually just want to be left alone. …
  • Pick up small children immediately.
  • Hike and travel in groups. …
  • Make yourselves look as large as possible (for example, move to higher ground).
  • Do NOT allow the bear access to your food. Getting your food will only encourage the bear and make the problem worse for others.
  • Do NOT drop your pack as it can provide protection for your back and prevent a bear from accessing your food.
  • If the bear is stationary, move away slowly and sideways; this allows you to keep an eye on the bear and avoid tripping.  …
  • Leave the area or take a detour. If this is impossible, wait until the bear moves away. Always leave the bear an escape route.
  • Be especially cautious if you see a female with cubs; never place yourself between a mother and her cub, and never attempt to approach them. The chances of an attack escalate greatly if she perceives you as a danger to her cubs.

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