Since 2009 American Black Bears have been seen at Devil’s Lake State Park. Some of the more recent reports of seeing bears have been out on the Steinke Basin trail area, east of the main public area and Roznos Meadow on the far south-east corner of the park. So far, there have been no reports of black bears in the public campgrounds. Although sightings are rare, visitors to the park should be “Bear Aware”.
Black Bears range in color from black to brown and average in size from 110-300 lbs. Large males can reach 400 lbs. Their height is about 2.5-3 ft at shoulder. Standing, they are around 5ft tall.
Maintain a bear-safe campsite
- Store food, drinks and scented items securely (in your vehicle, a bear-safe container or a tree — never in your tent)
- Dispose of trash in bear-proof dumpsters, if available
- Wipe down picnic tables
- Burn food off stoves or grills
- Always sleep inside your tent
- Never approach or feed a bear
- Report bear sightings to your campground host
Take precautions while hiking
- Stay alert at dawn and dusk, when bears are more active
- Go with a group, if possible
- Make noise as you travel through dense cover
- Stay away from animal carcasses
- Store food, trash and scented items (such as sunscreen) in airtight plastic bags
- Keep kids in the center of the group
If you encounter a bear
- Stand your ground. Never back up, lie down or play dead. Stay calm and give the bear a chance to leave. Prepare to use your bear spray or another deterrent.
- Don’t run away or climb a tree. Black bears are excellent climbers and can run up to 35 mph — you cannot outclimb or outrun them.
- Know bear behavior. If a bear stands up, grunts, moans or makes other sounds, it’s not being aggressive. These are the ways a bear gets a better look or smell and expresses its interest.
If a bear attacks
- Use bear spray. Then leave the area. Studies have shown bear spray to be 92 percent successful in deterring bear attacks.
- Shoot to kill. If you use a firearm, never fire a warning shot — aim for the center of the bear and keep firing until it is dead. Notify the Department of Natural Resources immediately.
- Always fight back. And never give up! People have successfully defended themselves with almost anything: rocks, sticks, backpacks, water bottles and even their hands and feet.