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Bear Attack! (5 Bear Safety Resources for RVers)

| Updated Apr 27, 2024

Though bear attacks are rare, they’re not unheard of and are sometimes fatal. It’s crucial that every RVer learns bear safety to avoid such a situation. So, I have compiled our bear safety articles into this master resource…. 

A Texas man was recently awoken by a bear biting his head while camping in New Mexico. That’s right, its big jaws were wrapped around this sleeping camper’s head. 

At first, Paul Georgoulis heard loud sniffing, and then the next thing he knew, a black bear grabbed his head in its jaws. Paul screamed until the bear let go and retreated.

“I scream as loud as I can, right in its ears, and it kind of lumbers off,” Georgoulis stated after the attack.

“The phrase ‘life flashed before your eyes,’ I don’t think is really a very accurate phrase of what I experienced, but I can’t think of any better way to say it,” he added.

Georgoulis had been cowboy camping on his friend’s land in Glorieta, New Mexico on his way home to Texas. His friend, Dean Dommer, described hearing his friend’s screams as he raced toward his cabin.

“It was 3:30 in the morning, and he was running for the house screaming and bleeding,” Dommer recalled. Georgoulis had a gash in his head that required 16 stitches, which he received at the local hospital.

“I was really worried because when that bear grabbed me. … I heard a bit of a crunching sound. Luckily my CT scan came back OK,” Georgoulis said.

The outcome could have been much worse, especially since Georgoulis believes it was more of a mistake than a bear attack. 

“I think really what happened was there was a curious bear in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said, not placing blame on the bear. 

“It felt more like it was kind of trying to gently pick up my head and drag it somewhere else, if that makes any sense. Like I think he thought it was like an inanimate object kind of a thing that smelled good.”

Regardless of the bear’s intent, it was a dangerous situation that could have easily ended in death. That’s why it’s imperative that campers and RVers are up on their bear safety.

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bear safety - black bear cubs

Bear Safety Resources

Jennifer and I have several articles and podcasts about bear safety. So, I thought it would be helpful to consolidate them in this article as a sort of helpful index. 

First, I want to reiterate that bear attacks are rare; you’re much more likely to be attacked and/or killed by another human than a bear. However, your odds of not being attacked by a bear are even better if you practice bear safety.

So, I am going to give you a brief summary of each resource below, and you can click on the title to learn more…

Resource #1: Careful Camping in Bear Country: What You Need to Know

Camping in bear country comes with gorgeous scenic views, but it also comes with… bears! Here’s what you need to know to stay safe and protect yourself and your gear.

It’s a sad fact of life that there are camping fatalities and injuries every year because of bear attacks.

During peak season, at least one bear every week is put down by game officials somewhere in North America because it strayed into a campground. Unfortunately, most incidents arise because of irresponsible humans who left food out.

So, this article is to help protect you and the bears whose home we are visiting!

Bear Safety - brown bear with cubs

Resource #2: Bear Safety and You: 3 Tips from an Expert

I interviewed the founder and director of the Be Bear Aware Campaign, Chuck Bartlebaugh.

Chuck has researched human-wildlife conflicts extensively and studied why an increasing number of people attempt to approach and interact with wild animals. He’s worked with national parks, universities, bear biologists and wildlife research agencies for decades.

He has traveled extensively, photographing and observing human-wildlife interactions in national parks, forests, and refuges in the lower 48 states, Canada, and Alaska.

He shares his best tips to help campers stay “bear aware.”

Resource #3: Podcast Episode 113: What You Need to Know About Being Safe in Bear Country

We are in the 400s for podcast episodes! So if you want to go back in time and listen to us from 2016 (which feels like 100 years ago) you can listen to our interview with Chuck Bartlebaugh.

Click on the link, scroll to the bottom, and push play. You can jump forward to the bear safety interview by fast forwarding to the 27:42 timestamp.

Resource #4: How to Safely Watch Bears: Via Live Streaming

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It’s shocking how many people get too up-close-and-personal with wildlife, including bears! 

Instead of venturing too close (risking serious injury or death!), you can safely watch bears via live streaming with this resource.

Resource #5: RVing and Camping in Bear Country

Inevitably, if you do a lot of wilderness camping in your RV, you’re going to find yourself in bear country.

It’s a sad fact of life that there are camping fatalities and injuries every year because of bear attacks and if you travel with dogs, there can be other problems.

But despite the headlines and all the warning signs, bear incidents are really rare, and hundreds of thousands of campers and RVers enjoy wilderness camping deep in bear country without even seeing a bear. But that doesn’t mean precautions should not be taken…


Bear Attack! (5 Bear Safety Resources for RVers) 1

If you don't read about or listen to the podcast with Chuck Bartlebaugh mentioned above, you need to at least walk away with this knowledge.

Chuck, a bear safety expert, says bear spray is the best choice for stopping a charging, attacking, or threatening bear. The bear spray he recommends is called “Counter Assault.”

Chuck also said it works on all types of bears and that “it’s effective on any animal that breathes deeply and has eyes, and lungs, and nose.”

He said it works because it’s powerful and able to shoot 25-30 feet – something to keep in mind considering bears can move at a speed of up to 30 miles per hour.

If hiking in a group, every person should have their own can.

Other Helpful Animal Safety Articles

Since we’re talking about animal safety, it’s worth mentioning two other articles regarding another (yet much smaller) dangerous creature: snakes.

5 Basic Snake Safety Tips Every RVer Needs to Know

Do you know how many U.S. states have venomous snakes? And I’m talking about venomous snakes, not just snakes in general. 

If you don’t know, go ahead and take a guess. I can hear your thoughts churning… 

Okay, Alaska’s too cold, and several of the northern states are probably too cold, too. All southern states have snakes but do they all have venomous snakes? Hmm, what about Hawaii? 

I bet your guess is in the 30s range, right? Yeah, I’m sure there are more states with snakes, but you asked about venomous snakes!

Well, unless you only eliminated 4 states from your list, you’d be wrong. 46 of the 50 United States have venomous snakes!  (I’ll tell you which 4 at the end.)

That’s why, no matter where you’re traveling, you should be up on your snake safety…

45 Do's and Don’ts of Snake Safety While Camping

I covered the basics in the previous snake safety article, but now I’m going to go into more depth. I’m going to list out the Dos and Don’ts of snake safety…

Mike and Jennifer Wendland's Yellowstone Travel Guide

3 Beautiful Boondocking Sites Outside Yellowstone

At the top of every RVers bucket list, it is a place so majestic, so wild, and so big that it calls us to return, to explore, to get to know the diversity of its land and animals over and over again.

Everywhere you look are waterfalls, fast-moving rivers, geysers, sheer rock faces, towering lodgepole pines, all framed by mountains under the bright blue cloudless sky.

It’s spectacular for those who love the wilderness and getting up close and personal with it. Enjoy Yellowstone for RV travel.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2024-04-27

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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