Lions and Tigers and Bears!

It's that time of year again when the critters are waking up after a long winter's nap. We hear recent news of mountain lion attacks in Washington and a grizzly attack in Montana already this season. Like flipping through Bruce Tremper's "Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain" every fall before ski season, it's a good idea to refresh your brain on what to do if you happen to cross paths with a big ol' bear or mountain lion while out riding in our backyard.

See a Big Cat?

Remember these keys:

  • If you are with small kids, pick them up without bending over or turning your back on the lion
  • Remain facing the lion and slowly back away. LEAVE THE LION AN ESCAPE ROUTE
  • Try to appear as large as possible (lift your bike over your head, wave your arms, etc.)
  • Yell at the lion, throw rocks at it, wave a fallen branch, etc. if the cat will not leave


  • Fight back with all your might
  • Try to stay on your feet
  • Use sticks, rocks, your bike
  • If you have bear spray, use it!

Have a look at these from Idaho Fish and Game:

What about the Grizz?

Identification is important. We’ve got both Black and Grizzly bears in areas where we ride. Regardless, both should be treated with extreme caution.

Bear Identification

Carry bear spray with you on your rides and make sure it’s stashed in a place where you can retrieve it and deploy in less than 4 seconds. I carry one of these Bear Cozys in the bottle cage on my bike.

Bear Cozy 

Above all, make noise, heed warning signs, be aware, ride with others and carry the spritzer with you all the time. You never know when you’ll need it.

What to Do if a Grizzly Bear Attacks

  • Put your bike between you and the bear if possible.
  • Make as much noise as possible
  • If deploying bear spray, use it when the bear is within 40′ of you – the bear will be running into the fog of pepper spray. Aim for the face of the bear.


  • Play dead!
  • Lie face down on the ground with your hands around the back of your neck.
  • Stay silent and try not to move.
  • Keep your legs spread apart and leave your pack on to protect your back.
  • Once the bear backs off, stay quiet and still for as long as you can. Bears will often watch from a distance and come back if they see movement.

Curious for more of a deep dive on biking in bear country? Check out local expert Aaron Couch’s piece for Singletracks on Bear Safety.


Encounter a Grizzly Bear or a Mountain Lion in Idaho? Report it to Idaho Fish and Game HERE

Encounter a Grizzly Bear or a Mountain Lion in Wyoming? Report it to Wyoming Game and Fish HERE 

Be safe out there this summer!