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IMPORTANT TIPS! How to survive in Swedish nature, How do you protect yourself from a bear attack? + 10 dos and don’ts

IMPORTANT TIPS! How to survive in Swedish nature, How do you protect yourself from a bear attack? + 10 dos and don’ts

NordenBladet – It’s your first time in Sweden. You’ve decided to combine a few days in the capital with a hike in the forest. You’ve heard great things about the natural scenery and are excited to start exploring some of Europe’s last wilderness areas. But what is really out there? Is there anything you should think of before heading out into Swedish nature?

Let the bears know where you are
You’re surrounded by pine trees. The sun is unable to fully break through the layers of branches above you. It is dead quiet save for the occasional buzzing mosquito. If you sit still for long enough you might hear a branch break against the damp moss undergrowth.

This is bear territory. This is where wolves howl at night. You’re all alone and you need to find a way to survive. Welcome to Sweden’s back country.

Suddenly, what you thought was a boulder rises up a short distance away. It takes a few seconds before you realise you’re standing in front of one of the many big animals that live in Swedish forests.

Some large predators do stalk the woods in central Sweden: brown bear, wolf, wolverine and lynx. Most likely you’ll never meet one of them, simply because they would not want you to.

But if you’re ever ‘lucky’ enough to meet a wild bear in Sweden, strike up a conversation and make sure the bear knows you are there. Clap your hands. Whatever you do, don’t run. Back up away from the bear without turning away from it. Keep talking to it calmly. Go about your business.

There have been bear attacks against humans in Sweden, but they are extremely rare. ‘Large predators in Sweden do not normally present a danger to humans. There are, however, certain situations in which predators could cause harm; that is, they have the capacity to harm,’ says Benny Gäfvert at Sweden’s Large Carnivore Centre. The rare situations Gäfvert refers to are likely to happen in occurrence with hunting. So in general, common sense is enough to keep everyday hikers like you alive. As long as you don’t corner or attack bears, they will leave you alone.

How to Be Bear-Savvy When Hiking and Camping

1. Make noise while you walk. Clapping your hands, singing, ringing bells, or speaking loudly will keep you from surprising a bear. Surprised bears are more likely to react aggressively.
2. Do not take your dog with you. A dog can provoke a bear and send it your way.
3. Carry bear pepper spray. This should be your first line of defense if a bear attacks. It creates a large cloud that will usually stop a bear in its tracks.
4. Never ever feed or approach a bear.
5. When you see a bear stand up, it is not attacking but trying to see, hear, and smell you better.
Talk firmly in a low-pitched voice while backing away. Avoid direct eye contact, as bears may perceive this as a challenge or threat.
6. Keep children with you on the trail at all times. If you see a bear, immediately pick up small children while you assess what to do. Mother bears are very protective of their cubs. A startled black bear will often send her cubs up a tree while she stands guard at the bottom. This gives you a chance to walk away without a confrontation. Never come between a mother bear and her cub.
7. If attacked by a bear, do not run. The bear will think you are prey and will chase you.
8. Do not climb a tree. Bears are excellent climbers.
9. If a bear touches you, drop to the ground and play dead. Lie on your stomach, clasp your hands behind your neck, and use your elbows and toes to avoid being rolled over. If the bear does roll you, keep rolling until you land back on your stomach. Stay still and do not struggle or scream. A defensive bear will stop attacking once it feels you are not a threat. Do not move until you are absolutely sure the bear has left the area.
10. When camping, make sure to set up camp in an open area away from dense vegetation. Before you set up camp, look around for discarded food or for signs that bears have been around, such as bear tracks, poop, or scratched trees. If you see these signs, look for a new campsite.
11. Be scentless. Bears are attracted by smells, so use fragrance-free shampoos and soaps. Insect-repelling citronella candles actually can attract bears.
12. Keep all food, even wrapped food, in bear-proof containers at least one hundred yards from your tent. Garbage and the clothing you wear while cooking should also be stashed this far away. Wash all utensils immediately after use.

Clean up after yourself. Don’t jeopardize campers who follow you by leaving food around.

Find something to eat
The odds are on your side and hopefully the animal backed off when you did. But managing not to get attacked is the easy part: now it’s time for you to find something to eat. With autumn just around the corner, these woods are filled with treats. Below the pine trees the undergrowth is filled with blueberry bushes. The neighbouring lingonberries are not yet ripe and therefore sour, but still highly nutritious. It’s not recommended to try out the mushrooms that spring up seemingly everywhere. Some make you sick, most taste like waste and practically none of them are worth eating raw. Chanterelles, however, are the truffles of the north and something you shouldn’t miss out on.

Other foods might be brilliant as herbal remedies or at least make a good cup of tea, but still warrant a warning. The stinging nettle, for example, can be used as remedy or food once prepared, but it’s not something you want to rub up against. If you see ‘peppermint’ growing in the wild in Sweden, approach with care.

Get yourself a drink
Once you have stuffed yourself with blueberries, you might want some water. Hiking requires water, but you’re in luck. Not only is all of Sweden scattered with lakes and streams, but you can feel safe about drinking the water. As long as it is flowing, whether from a kitchen tap, stream or river, there’s no need to filtrate or purify.

Water comes in many forms, though, and you can expect a clear sunny day to suddenly turn into a downpour in a matter of minutes. If dark clouds gather overhead and the first few drops of rain fall against your forehead, it’s time to rummage through your backpack and put on a windbreaker.

Dress for success – layers upon layers
As the rain intensifies the air gets cooler. It’s getting late. You sit hunkered over under a tree and thank the stars you are not in the mountains of the very far north, where you’ve heard it can even snow in the summer. So how do you dress for the cold? You wear lots of layers, avoid cotton and make sure you have something wind and water resistant as an outer shell.

Swedish nature has so much to offer it would be foolish not to head into it. Imagine sitting by a creek up north, on a hilltop looking out over miles and miles of untouched terrain. You might be only an hour from a city but it feels like you are at the end of the world. You are all alone. It is dead quiet. And the best advice is to stay within your comfort zone. Sweden has something to offer everyone. From a stroll along the beach in Skåne in the south to backpacking trail-less country in Sarek National Park in the north.

Watch your step and wear good shoes
Per-Olov Wikberg, spokesperson for the Mountain Safety Council of Sweden, finds that international summer guests tend to be underequipped for the potentially cold conditions in the very north. ‘Check the weather conditions, let someone know your detailed itinerary and head out only if you are well equipped,’ he says.

When asked what is the most common reason for the rescue service to be dispatched in the summer, he says, ‘Sprained ankles, without a doubt. We pick them up by helicopter.’ So there you go: watch your step and wear good shoes.

Swedish nature really is filled with danger: freezing cold weather, poisonous mushrooms, treacherous bog soil, wolves, bears, and forests so big you could get lost. Of course if you bring a compass or GPS, wear proper clothing, avoid eating stuff off the ground you are not familiar with, and try not to cuddle with bear cubs, you should be fine. And if for whatever reason you are not, we have a great rescue service.

Ten dos and don’ts in Swedish nature:
1. Don’t approach bears (and never ever, ever, ever a cub).
2. Don’t eat foodstuffs you are unsure about.
3. Drink water as long as it is flowing.
4. Wear cotton-free layered clothing.
5. Watch out for ticks, wasps and red marks after a bite.
6. Let people know your itinerary during backpacking hikes.
7. Use appropriate equipment that you are familiar with.
8. Bring a map and compass or at least a GPS.
9. Wear bright clothing during the hunting season.
10. Don’t go alone.

The right of public access
Allemansrätten (Freedom to roam) – the right of public access – gives everyone the right to enjoy Sweden’s outdoors. It allows the public to roam freely, even on private land, to camp overnight and to pick mushrooms and berries. The right also brings responsibilities – to treat flora and fauna and other people’s property with care. It can be summed up in the phrase ‘don’t disturb, don’t destroy’. The right of public access is written into the Swedish constitution. But it is not a law as such, rather a custom or part of the cultural heritage that has evolved and become accepted over the years.

People also search these questions:

Which bears live in Sweden?
The bears which inhabit the forests and mountains of Sweden are Brown Bears, Ursus arctos. In the wild, a male can weigh as much as 350 kg and a female up to 240 kg. No! The nearest polar bears are in Spitsbergen in Norway, almost 1000 miles north of Stockholm.

What kind of bears are in Sweden?
The bears which inhabit the forests and mountains of Sweden are Brown Bears, Ursus arctos. In the wild, a male can weigh as much as 350 kg and a female up to 240 kg. No! The nearest polar bears are in Spitsbergen in Norway, almost 1000 miles north of Stockholm.

Are there polar bears in Sweden?
Contrary to popular belief, we have no polar bears, or ice bears, walking in the streets. In fact, there are no wild polar bears in Sweden at all. The wildest animal you’re likely to see here is a moose, and the best chance to meet one is to run into it with your car.

What is a bear scared of?
Black bears usually run away when dogs chase them. Even the smallest breeds of dogs have scared black bears away. However, bears learn to ignore dogs that are tied up or in pens. Ely researchers watched a yearling black bear forage and rest 100 yards from a dozen barking, tethered huskies.

Can you outrun a bear?
Fact: Bears can run more than 60 kilometers an hour, and they can do it up hills, down hills or along a slope. To put that in perspective, that’s 15 m/sec or 50 ft/sec – more than twice as fast as we can run. In fact, a bear can outrun a racehorse over short distances but has little endurance.

How do you scare off a black bear?
Stand and face the bear directly. Never run away from or approach him. Make yourself look as big as possible by spreading your arms or, better yet, a coat. Make as much noise as possible by yelling, banging pots and pans or using other noisemaking devices.

How do you protect your food from bears?
To keep your food safe (and to help prevent bears from developing an association between hikers and food), here are the options.

a) Hang It: Bear Bag. To be bear-proof, food must be suspended at least 10 feet off the ground and 8 feet from the trunk of a tree. …
b) Can It: Bear Canister. …
c) Sack It: Stuff Sack.

What do you do if a bear is chasing you?
When bear has detected you and shows signs of aggression

Assess the situation.
Do Not Run.
Try to retreat slowly.
Climb a tree if available.
If the bear charges you.
Use your pepper spray.
If a black bear (or any bear that is stalking you) makes contact.
If a grizzly makes contact.

Do bears eat people?
Truly man-eating bear attacks are uncommon, but are known to occur when the animals are diseased or natural prey is scarce, often leading them to attack and eat anything they are able to kill.

What is a bear can?
Bear-resistant food storage containers, also called bear canisters or bear cans, are usually hard-sided containers used by backpackers to protect their food from theft by bears.

Which bears attack humans the most?
The number of black bear attacks on humans is higher than those of brown bears, though this is largely because the black species outnumbers the brown rather than their being more aggressive. Compared to brown bear attacks, violent encounters with black bears rarely lead to serious injury and death.

What is the difference between a brown bear and a grizzly bear?
Grizzly bears and brown bears are the same species (Ursus arctos), but grizzly bears are currently considered to be a separate subspecies (U. a. horribilis). Due to a few morphological differences, Kodiak bears are also considered to be a distinct subspecies of brown bear.

Is a brown bear a grizzly bear?
Is it a brown bear or a grizzly? The answer is that all grizzlies are brown bears, but not all brown bears are grizzlies. The grizzly is a North American subspecies of brown bear with the Latin name Ursus arctos horribilis.

What is the difference between a Kodiak bear and a grizzly bear?
The geographic differences between these two subspecies has also led to differences in size. Generally Kodiak bears have a larger bone structure, and therefore larger frames than grizzly bears, though both species can reach very large sizes. … Grizzly bears can weigh up to 1,150 pounds.

Why is the brown bear important to the ecosystem?
While brown bear population numbers are currently stable, they are considered a high priority in conservation. … Brown bears also play important roles as predators who keep other animal populations in check. Additionally, they act as seed dispersers, helping to sustain their own environment.

What is the most aggressive bear?
Grizzly and polar bears are the most dangerous, but Eurasian brown bears and American black bears have also been known to attack humans. Some species depredate livestock on occasion, and some bears, such as Asiatic and American black bears, may destroy fruit or other crops, especially corn.

What is the biggest bear in the world?
The polar bear. It is a close call, but the polar bear is generally considered the largest bear on Earth. A close second is the brown bear, specifically the Kodiak bear. The Kodiak is a subspecies of the brown bear native to Alaska.

What eats a brown bear?
Adult brown bears are powerful, top-of-the-food chain predators, but much of their diet consists of nuts, berries, fruit, leaves, and roots. Bears also eat other animals, from rodents to moose. … Over the winter a grizzly bear can lose 150 pounds.

How many black bears are left in the world?
It is estimated that there are at least 600,000 black bears in North America. In the United States, there are estimated to be over 300,000 individuals. However, the Louisiana black bear (Ursus americanus luteolu) and Florida black bear (Ursus americanus floridanus) are unique subspecies with small populations.

What is the biggest bear of all time?
The previous heavyweight was a North American giant short-faced bear—a related extinct species—that weighed up to 2,500 pounds (1,134 kilograms). The largest bear on record in modern times was a 2,200-pound (998-kilogram) polar bear shot in Alaska in the 19th century.

Do bears eat bees or honey?
Bears do love honey and are attracted to beehives. But unlike in Winnie the Pooh, the bears eat more than just honey. They will also consume the bees and larvae inside the beehive, which are a good source of protein. Both brown and black bears will raid beehives.

Featured image: NordenBladet
Sources: NordenBladet.ee, sweden.se, rd.com



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