Bear-Safety-art - 12/22/13
"Bear Safety in Oertha" by Kurios Halfdan "Two Bears" Ôzurrson.
This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.
These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.
While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.
Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
This article was first published in the July 2012 issue of "The Dragon Tale", Barony of Selviergard, Principality of Oertha in the Kingdom of the West.
Bear Safety in Oertha
by Kurios Halfdan "Two Bears" Ozurrson
Oertha is special for many reasons; one of them is that our Principality is home to the three types of the North American species of bears. While we don't really have to worry about the polar bear variety as much; we still need to be aware of both the brown and black bears that share Oertha with us.
The camping season is full upon us. Camping season inevitably means that our furry non-member friends may be attracted to not only the pageantry and chivalry at events, but also the food.
Bears are curious, intelligent, and potentially dangerous animals. Learning how to respect bears and how to behave properly at camping events can help alleviate a lot of problems that come from bear encounters in the Northernmost Principality in the West Kingdom.
According to the State of Alaska's Department of Fish and Game, there are things to know to be better prepared in the advent that a bear make his way to an event.
Bears Don't Like Surprises. Always make your presence known. If you are walking through a path or in the woods, you need to make some noise. Sing your favorite rowdy bardic song or talk loudly. Anything you can do to make sure the bear is not startled by your sudden appearance.
Don't Crowd Bears. Believe it or not, bears enjoy personal space. If you see a bear; observe from a distance. Do not try to get closer for a photo opportunity or to see if it attempted at pre-16th century garb.
Bears Are Hungry. Bears only have six months or so to build up fat reserves for the winter, so they are on the lookout for food. Cooking away from your sleeping tent, along with properly disposing of food items is important. Lock up your food in your car, even if it is wrapped up. Never under any circumstances leave food in your tent or pavilion; that’s just inviting the bear to enjoy a scrumptious feast inside your encampment.
If you do see a bear, avoid it if at all possible. If you do encounter a bear at close range then you need to take different measures to better your chances of being able to tell about it around the bardic fire.
Identify Yourself. Talk to the bear in a normal voice and wave your arms. If the bear doesn't know what you are, chances are he will want to come closer for a better look. Do not imitate bear noises or make a high-pitched squeal.
Don't Run. You can't run faster than a bear, trust me. Bears will chase fleeing animals, so running away only encourages it to chase you. The bear may perform a false charge. If it gets too close, talk louder and be more aggressive. Bang pots and pans or use a noisemaker if you have them.
If Attacked. You now have two choices; play dead or attack. The choice is dependent on several things. You should play dead if: you are attacked by a grizzly bear you have surprised, encountered on a bear feeding on a carcass, or encounter any female bear that appears to be protecting its young. When playing dead, lie flat on your stomach or curl up into a ball with your hands behind your neck. In this way, the typical bear will break off the attack when it feels that the threat has been eliminated. Stay still for as long as possible. You should fight any bear that follows you or breaks into your tent and should fight a black bear regardless of the circumstances.
Additionally, the Department of Fish and Game recommends common sense when dealing with bears as firearms should not be used as an alternative. Oertha is unique as it is the only realm in the Knowne World allowed to have firearms at events in case of extreme wildlife situations.
It is important to note that according to the Alaska State Law, a bear may be shot in self-defense if the bear was not provoked and there is no alternative. Do not go looking for a bear just because you need a new set of armor; it won't work out that way.
So, while enjoying the great outdoors in scenic Oertha, keep these four things in mind when thinking about bear safety:
1. Avoid surprising bears at close distances; look for signs of bears and make plenty of noise.
2. Avoid crowding bears; respect their personal space.
3. Avoid attracting bears through improper handling of food and garbage.
4. Plan ahead, stay calm, identify yourself, and do not run.
In most cases, bears are not a threat; they are simply curious animals that deserve our respect and attention. Keep alert for them, and with the basic knowledge of bear safety; you should enjoy a wonderful camping event in Oertha.
More information regarding bears can be found on the http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=livingwithbears.main">Alaska Department of Fish and Game website http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=livingwithbears.main.
Copyright 2013 by Travis Abe-Thomas, PO Box 2254, Palmer, AK 99645. Thomassorngrym at yahoo.com. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited. Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, please place a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.