A bear was killed along a popular hiking trail near town yesterday. According to the paper, it was a healthy three year old male. It had taken and killed a dog and then false charged the owner when he went back to look for his missing dog. He called the police and they, along with fish and wildlife officers tracked the bear down and shot it. Such situations lead me to stop and consider my attitude towards the local bear population.
As a general rule, I do not carry a gun while hiking. I know that bears are around and I have seen them while hiking. Occasionally (it seems like it is about once every year or two around here) there is significant trouble with a bear and a hiker or hunter. I tend to think that most of the time bears want nothing to do with me and they will go out of their way to avoid me. In fact, in my two closest bear encounters, they did just that. In each case, it seemed likely that they were surprised and I did not seem them until they were running away. (My photojournal has more details about the second encounter.) Certainly there is a risk due to bears, but when I think about how many people go out and spend time in bear country around Sitka and how rarely a violent encounter occurs, it seems reasonable to think that the chance of running into trouble with bears is small. Of course, it is also sensible to take reasonable precautions to avoid close encounters in the first place.