Most bear sightings trigger some excitement, but not necessarily a report to area rangers. If you see a color-coded warning sign like this, odds are good that something unusual has taken place -- a bluff charge, an aggressive sow with cubs, a bear kill off the trail, and so on.
The color-coding scheme is pretty common: A green sign for relatively benign but noteworthy encounters (like a bear lingering in the area), orange if more caution is advised, and red for the most serious of dangers.
Bears move around quite a bit, so the lack of a warning sign doesn't guarantee the absence of bears (dangerous or otherwise). It's always a good idea to practice basic bear safety any time you're traveling in bear country.
Even without an actual sign, there are plenty of hints you can spot that tell you a bear is (or has been) in the area -- all you have to do is take the time to look. The three most obvious clues that a bear is nearby are:
- Scat (poop)
- Marks on trees
Click through the following gallery to see examples of what each clue looks like.