How to avoid, and if needed, respond to a bear attack

Bear attack
This bear bit and clawed at a 72-year-old McGregor, Minn. woman. A conservation officer later killed the 190-pound female bear, after the animal ran at the officer as well.
Photo courtesy Minnesota DNR

Even though bear attacks on humans are extremely rare, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has a few tips for people hoping to avoid a dangerous situation. A 72-year-old McGregor woman is recovering at home from an attack that happened Monday evening.

Dan Stark, a large carnivore specialist for DNR, joined MPR's Cathy Wurzer to provide some advice for people living in or hiking in bear country:

• Avoid bears in the first place. Take some general precautions, but the most recent incident isn't anything to be alarmed about because it's so rare.

• Rid your yard of any bear attractants, such as bird seed, garbage or pet food.

• If you encounter a bear in your yard or on a hiking trail, remain calm. Maintain your composure and try to move away slowly. Face a bear without making eye contact. Clap, make loud noises (yelling, air horn, pots and pans). Make sure the bear knows you are there so you don't surprise it.

• Never corner a bear. Always make sure it has a way to escape.

• If you're hiking, pepper spray can be carried in case of an encounter.

• If you are attacked, fight back. Kick, punch, use sticks.