What to do if you see a bear or if the bear attacks you


  • Attacks on bears do not occur often and can typically be avoided if safety precautions are taken.
  • If a grizzly bear attacks you, you may want to play dead.
  • If a black bear attacks you, your best bet is probably to fight – look at the bear’s face.
  • Visit the Insider homepage for more stories.

Attacks on bears can be dangerous and sometimes fatal but, fortunately, your chances of always being attacked by a bear are slim.

For reference, between 1900 and 2009, only around 63 people were killed by non-captive black bears in the United States and Canada combined, according to research published in the Journal of Wildlife Management in 2011.

And, according to the U.S. National Park Service, your chances of being injured by a bear in Yellowstone National Park they are about one in 2.7 million.

However, exploring the desert means dealing with the possibility of meeting animals, including bears.

Here’s what you should and shouldn’t do if you find a bear or are ever attacked by one.

If you catch a bear, move sideways and be careful not to drop your pack.

Grizzly bears can climb trees.

Jim Urquhart / Reuters

If you accidentally catch a bear while walking or walking in the woods, focus on identifying yourself as human and making sure the bear knows that you are not a threat.

According to the United States National Park Service, you should stand still and slowly shake your arms over your head. Stay calm and speak in low tones. Do not try to imitate a bear’s roar and avoid making any high-pitched sounds.

Although your instinct may be to turn and run, it’s actually one of the worst things to do in front of a bear. Like dogs, the bears have a predatory instinct to hunt running animals – so running can only make the bear chase you.

You’ll also want to avoid trying to climb a tree, since grizzly bears and black bears are also capable of climbing.

Get away from the bear slowly, with the goal of moving sideways rather than backwards, since it is not threatening and can help decrease your chances of stumbling. Be sure to keep your backpack or walking bag on you, as it could provide some protection if the bear attacks.

Typically, a bear will perform a “bluff charge” before deciding whether to attack or not

According to the United States National Park Service, there are two types of bear loads to keep an eye out for.

The first and most common is known as a bluff charge. During a bluff charge, the bear may raise its head and point its ears upwards to appear larger. The bear can be tied towards you with its front paws, but it will turn to the side or stop before it really attacks you. At this point, he could roar or even run away.

It’s probably wise though do not escape during a bluff charge. Doing so could really make you attack the bear. Instead, stand on the ground and speak to the bear in a calm voice, waving your arms over your head to make it look bigger and help the bear understand that you are human.

If the bear stops or retreats, move away slowly from the bear while making sure you can also see the animal until it moves away or reaches safety.

An aggressive charge usually means that a bear is in the process of attacking

The second type of bear charge is an aggressive charge. This typically happens when a bear is stressed and feels it must attack to protect itself or its young.

If a bear is on a track of aggressive charging, you can open your mouth wide or brush your teeth together. During an aggressive charge, a bear may have its ears and head pointed. If you have bear spray with you, this is the time to use it.

An aggressive charge usually ends up with the bear making contact with you or physically attacking you.

If a bear appears threatened, quickly identifying the species can help you understand what to do

When it comes to carrying out attacks, knowing how to tell the difference between a black bear and a grizzly bear can save your life. As well as Joseph Goldes, The inland guide and outdoor skills instructor told the Insider, these two species respond differently to the same human behavior.

In general, grizzly bears are larger than black bears. But the size of a bear’s shoulders and the shape of its face are better indicators on what species of animal you are dealing with, as the size of a bear can vary depending on the region and season.


According to the International Association for the Research and Management of Bears, black bears typically have larger ears than grizzly bears. And grizzly bears have a more concave (curved) facial profile than black bears.

“Grizzly bears also have a hump at the base of the neck that black bears don’t have. Don’t be fooled by the color – black bears can be brown and brown bears can be almost black.” , Goldes said. A grizzly bear coat can be too on top of white.

Knowing the common regions of the species can also help identify them – they find black bears throughout North America although grizzly bears are not as widespread. Grizzly bears are typically found in the Rocky Mountains, in part of the Cascade Range, in Alaska, and in northern Canada.

If you are attacked by a grizzly bear, you may want to try playing dead

grizzly bear

Grizzly bears can be brown or black.

Photo AP / Jim Urquhart

If you’re attacked by a grizzly bear, Goldes said: your best option is to play dead.

Generally, bears attack only humans to protect their food, puppies or space thus fighting a grizzly bear typically I only get one attack instead playing dead can help the bear believe that you are no longer a threat.

“To play effectively to the dead, you have to wait until the bear has touched you. The bears are smart enough to know that they will fake you if they don’t touch you and suddenly hit you,” he said. said Goldes.

When you try to play dead, you fall on your stomach and use your arms to cover your head, using the ground to protect your face and stomach. Keep your legs spread wide to make it harder for the bear to move.

Goldes said it’s likely that the bear tried to flash or play with your body. If this happens, you should allow the bear to flash, but roll it all over to finish it back face to face.

If you are attacked by a black bear, fighting it is probably your best option

black bear

If a black bear attacks you, it probably feels sick or crowned.

Getty / RF

The black bears are generally shy animals, according to the North American Bear Center. This means they may be less likely to charge at you aggressively, but they are to do attack, there is a good chance that they are determined enough to hurt you.

“It’s very rare for a black bear to attack a human. It usually only happens if the bear is sick or if you feel crowned. If that’s the case, you have to fight against whatever tools you have available. Aim for the ‘eyes and nose,’ Goldes said.

He said it’s important to make sure the bear has an escape route – bending the bear can only make it more aggressive.

According to the U.S. National Park Service, he was playing dead It probably won’t be very effective if you’re attacked by a black bear. Instead, you may want to fight back with all your might, aiming direct blows at the bear’s face while using any weapon or object available to you.

If possible, avoiding a bear attack is always the best tactic

One of the best ways to avoid encountering a bear in the desert is to preserve your food and waste properly. The bears have a great sense of smell and can be attracted to a camp by the scent of food.

“Keep all packaged food at home or in the car. All food and smelly items should be kept in one place, preferably in an odor-proof container. This food should be away from your store. Dispose of it. food scraps or something with a stink in a trash can, ”Goldes said.

Checking the wind direction is also important. All smelly foods and baskets should be stored wind of your tent so that its smells don’t blow into an area where people sleep. If a bear ends up being attracted to the scent of your food or debris, you don’t want them going through your tent to investigate the source of the odor.

Traveling in groups and avoiding bear cubs can also help prevent a bear attack.

And, if you want to be wise when observing bears, keep your distance from the animals. Most national parks require it stay at least 200 feet or 300 feet away from bears, although what is considered a safe distance may vary depending on the terrain you are on and the species you are observing.

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