First of all here is an encounter that I have had and survived in the wild and beautiful country called the USA:
Custer State Park, South Dakota
The reality is, you have a much greater chance of being flattened by a semi on the way to the trail-head than you do having a problem with a bear once you're on the trail. But, unlike the runaway semi, the bear danger is mostly controllable with correct education and common sense, so you have a responsibility to take sensible precautions and know how to respond to the danger if encountered.
I'm a photographer by trade though retired and in my days on this globe I have had many encounters because I like photographing them while on vacations. By the way I hate zoos and seeing animals caged. Planet of the Apes in reverse! Indeed I do hate zoos! In fact I try to seek bears out only in the wild, does that sound crazy or what?
Here are some suggestions that you should follow when in bear country(I never do, because I can make excellent dollars in my retirement, and have, photographing bears).
The number one rule is a bear will feel threatened if surprised (Duh)!
Hike in a group or make noise when you hike. Whistle, sing, or carry a noise maker(happy new year). Most bears will leave if they are aware of your presence.
Be especially careful when hiking into the wind. A bear may not get your scent and be forewarned of your presense. And, in dense bush and near rushing water, the animal may not hear your noise-maker.
Walk on if you come across dead animals or berry patches, important food sources for bears. Bears mostly eat plant life, but will eat meat when available, so don't be available.
Leave fido at home. Unleashed fido might come across a bear and may come running back to you with a bear in hot pursuit!
Keep children close at hand always on trails.
Avoid wearing strong cosmetics, perfumes, hair sprays and soaps.
Bears can smell blood! Women should be extra careful when in their monthly cycle.
Most bear encounters occur in camp when bears smell food and come looking for the source. If the food is stored in your vehicle there are rarely problems for campers.
But once a bear finds easy food from a human camp they will expect any camp to contain easy food. A fed bear is a dead bear, and park rangers will eventually kill a bear if the bear has lost it's fear of humans.
In my next thread I'll talk about the close encounter: When You Meet Yogi, Yikes!