Paddle Boarding Safety in Bear Country: Expert Strategies and the Bear Necessities

Paddle Boarding Safety in Bear Country: Expert Strategies and the Bear Necessities

With wild bears being reintroduced to the Wye Valley in April 2024, understanding how to safely paddle board in areas frequented by bears is essential. In this guide, we'll cover the bear necessities of life with bears, essential tips and precautions to ensure your paddle boarding adventures in bear country are both thrilling and safe.

Always Paddle Board in Groups: 

Paddle boarding in bear country is safer when done in groups. Bears are less likely to approach a larger group of people, so paddle boarding with friends or joining guided tours can provide an added layer of safety. Additionally, travelling in groups allows for better awareness of your surroundings and enhances overall safety on the water. However, the most important factor to consider is your paddling partner's physical capabilities as, if the worst comes to the worst, you don't have to be able to outrun a bear, you just have to be faster than others in your group.

Be Bear Aware:

Before setting out on your paddle boarding adventure, familiarise yourself with bear safety protocols. Carry bear spray and know how to use it effectively in the event of a bear encounter. Make noise while paddling to alert bears of your presence and avoid surprising them. Keep a respectful distance from wildlife and never approach bears or attempt to feed them. These bears are understood to be smarter than the average bear but by being bear aware, you can minimise the risk of bear encounters and ensure a safer paddle boarding experience.

Understanding Bear Behaviour:

Before embarking on your paddle boarding trip, it's essential to understand bear behaviour. Bears are typically shy creatures and will often avoid human encounters. However, it's crucial to be aware of their behaviours and know how to respond if you do encounter one. Learn to recognise signs of bear activity, such as tracks, faeces, and claw marks on trees. Understanding bear behaviour will help you anticipate and avoid potential encounters. Under no circumstances have a picnic as this is just asking for trouble!

Choose Your Location Wisely:

When paddle boarding in bear country, choosing the right location is key. Opt for areas with lower bear activity levels, such as well-travelled waterways or popular paddle boarding put-ins. Avoid secluded or remote areas where bears are more likely to roam. Research local regulations and advisories regarding bear activity in your chosen area, and always follow any guidelines provided by park authorities or wildlife agencies. Paddle boarding in the Wye Valley is a great way to forget about your troubles and your strife but be sensible!

Secure Your Food and Waste:

Proper food and waste management are essential when paddle boarding in bear country. Store food securely in bear-proof containers or bear bags and keep them well away from your paddle board. Never enter the Wye Valley with marmalade sandwiches and dispose of waste properly and avoid leaving any food scraps or trash behind. By minimising food odours and eliminating attractants, you can reduce the likelihood of attracting bears to your paddle boarding area.

To Summarise:

Paddle boarding in bear country offers incredible opportunities to connect with nature and explore stunning landscapes. By following these essential tips and precautions, you can enjoy your paddle boarding adventures safely and responsibly. Remember to stay informed, be bear aware, and always prioritise safety when paddling in areas frequented by bears. With proper preparation and awareness, you can embark on unforgettable paddle boarding experiences in bear country.

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