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If you’re backpacking in grizzly habitat, it is important to take proper precautions and educate yourself to avoid any adverse interactions between yourself and these incredible creatures which, despite the progress made in their recovery, are still a threatened species. Being able to share space with these magnificent animals in the stunning landscapes they call home is an incredible opportunity for backpackers in North America. With this opportunity comes the responsibility to do everything we can to protect ourselves and these bears from the harm that can arise from conflicts between bears and humans.

This article is not intended to provide comprehensive instructions on how to properly execute various components related to safely backpacking in grizzly habitat, such as the use of bear spray or firearms or how to hang food properly. Rather, it is intended to provide an overview of what backpackers should be aware of and the general best practices recommended by land management and conservation agencies.

Our understanding of grizzly bears and our approach to safely engaging in outdoor pursuits in grizzly habitat continues to evolve. In the half-century since the Night of the Grizzlies there have been significant changes in management related to bears and visitors on public lands. As more humans venture into grizzly habitat for recreation, and as the bear population grows and they spread out from their current core habitats, we will undoubtedly learn more about these incredible creatures and how to be safe when visiting their homes.

a brown bear standing on top of a grass covered hillside
Photo: John Morrison (Getty Images).

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