What to Do if Attacked by A Black Bear? 7 Best Tips

11 mins read
bear
photo by Enric Cruz López / pexels



Attacks by black bears can be extremely hazardous, and they even occasionally result in death; nonetheless, the likelihood of ever being attacked by a bear is extremely low.

However, we’ll learn about what to do if attacked by a black bear in this article.

According to research published in the Journal of Wildlife Management in 2011, only about 63 individuals were murdered by non-captive black bear attacks, and encounters in the United States and Canada combined between the years 1900 and 2009.

To see a mother bear with bear cubs from a range might be thrilling. Still, a bear encounter can quickly become hazardous, particularly if you startle the animal, mistakenly enter its feeding grounds, or go too close to its kids.

The National Park Service of the United States estimates that the likelihood of being wounded by a bear attack while visiting Yellowstone National Park is approximately one in 2.7 million.

However, venturing out into the wilderness requires you to be prepared for the chance of running into wild animals, especially black bears.

1. Do Black Bears Attack Humans?

When confronted by a black bear, it’s normal to feel a little uneasy. Black bears aren’t typically hostile, though. Black bear attacks are quite uncommon and an attack on a person by a black bear is highly unusual. However, it is not impossible.

According to the findings of a study conducted by The Wildlife Society, there were 59 fatal bear attacks between 1900 and 2009.

To put that into perspective, the possibility of accidentally suffocating yourself with your bedsheets is around one hundred fifty times riskier.

It is of the utmost need to maintain a safe distance when around wild black bears. The course of action will ensure the least amount of risk for both humans and black bears.

More specifically, it is against the law to intentionally approach a black bear within 150 feet or at any distance that causes the black bear attack to occur or to get agitated.

The National Park Service of the United States identifies two distinct categories of black bear attack charges that visitors should be on the lookout for. A bluff charge is the initial type of charge and the most prevalent type.

Bluff Charge

Before deciding whether or not to launch an actual assault, a bear will frequently engage in what is known as a bluff charge

What to Do if Attacked by A Black Bear
photo by Pixabay / pexels copyright2022

To give the impression that it is larger than it is, the bear may elevate its head and point its ears upward as it makes a bluff charge. You must remain calm in this situation when the bear approaches.

In order to be defensive, the bear shows signs of vigilance. It usually shows a brief outburst of anger in response to a perceived threat. The likelihood that a bear may act defensively when it becomes aware of its presence increases with your proximity to it.

It might thrash at the ground while blowing or snorting, burst its jaws, or even bluff charge in your direction. The goal of this conduct is to intimidate and drive away the threat. You can tell the bear is telling you to leave because you are getting too close.

Grizzly bears are one of the most lethal animals on earth, however, they never attack unless they are provoked or caught off guard.

The grizzly bear may charge at you while utilizing its front paws, but it will either veer off to the side or stop before the bear attacks. It may growl or maybe flee at this moment.

It is highly recommended that you should not flee the scene during the bluff charge. The bear may backward attack if you continue in this manner.

Instead, you should maintain your position, speak to the bear in a quiet voice, and wave your arms over your head to make yourself appear larger and assist the bear in understanding that you are a human, another option could be to leave your pack on and play dead.

Playing dead, may not seem easy at first, but one can try with your hands clasped behind your neck, and lying flat on the stomach. To make it more difficult for the bear to turn you over, spread your legs wide. Until the bear moves away, keep still.

If the bear pauses or walks backward, move away from it cautiously while ensuring that you can maintain a clear line of sight on the animal until it leaves the area or you reach a place of safety.

Aggressive Charge

When a bear charges aggressively, it almost always signifies that it is about to attack. 

An aggressive charge is the second type of bear charge that can occur. This takes place most frequently when a bear is under pressure and has the perception that it needs to attack to defend either itself or its young.

Charges that are aggressive are quite hazardous. When a bear exhibits these actions, it is likely stressed out and preparing to charge. The bear will approach you like a freight train with its head lowered and ears pointed back. Prepare to defend and protect oneself.

When a bear is getting ready to make an aggressive charge, it will spread its mouth wide open, yawn, or clench its teeth together or huff while pounding the ground with its front paws. These behaviors are warning indicators.

When a black bear attacks, its ears, and head may be lowered during an explosive charge, displaying an aggressive posture. If you happen to be carrying bear spray with you, this would be a good moment to use it.

When a grizzly bear attacks and charges at you aggressively, it will almost always make contact with you or attempt to harm you in some way physically.

2. What to Do if Attacked by A Black Bear?

You may stay safe and feel at ease by understanding how to act around bears and how uncommon bear attacks are.

A native Minnesota black bear, while being a massive and muscular animal, is typically timid and afraid of people, even the bears who are often two to three times heavier than the average person.

2.1. Pre-planned itinerary

A pre-determined hiking itinerary drawn out on maps based on recognized trails and likely camping places is the greatest approach to prevent interactions with most bears while out in the wilderness.

Always remember to check with the local visitor center or backcountry office as soon as you arrive in a National Park or State Park to obtain the most up-to-date information on bear safety and recommendations on where to hike and where to set up camps.

Stay on designated hiking trails, never approach a bear to take its picture, and under no circumstances should you ever attempt to feed a bear.

However, nothing ensures complete protection from bears. Therefore, one needs to keep in mind other tips and strategies to use if faced by any bear- be it a black bear, grizzly or brown bear.

bear attack
photo by Ibrahim ALbrdawil / pexels copyright 2022

2.2. Do Not Run

The most important thing, one should pay attention to is fighting your instinct. No matter, how much you’ve read or listened to but if you come across a bear, it is obvious to fall prey to the temptation to flee.

However, here comes your strong will to NOT RUN AWAY. Therefore the most important thing to remember is to resist the temptation to flee, regardless of whether or not the bear is aware of your presence.

The majority of black bear species can reach a speed of up to 30 miles per hour. They can cover 100 meters in approximately seven seconds, making them significantly quicker than the best Olympic sprinters in the world. Hence, running might be the most illogical move in the situation.

Additionally, If you run, you may arouse the bear’s natural drive to hunt, leading it to pursue you to protect itself from potential danger. This is especially true if the bear is still young.

Also, If the bear has not yet spotted you, try to remain hidden as much as you can and make every effort to move in such a way as to portray yourself moving downwind. This is an effective technique to avoid being sighted by the bear.

This will also help to prevent the bear from smelling your scent or any food that you may be carrying. In case of a bear approaches you, you must get rid of any eatables. you should throw away your packs as far as possible from you to divert the bear.

Then, you should get out of there as quickly as possible, even if it means you have to change your route.

2.3. Make Loud Noises

If a black bear attacks or is aware of your presence, you should talk to it in a loud and steady tone. While doing this, wave your arms above your head.

Try to appear as big as possible without making any sudden movements and stand your ground. This will help you appear more intimidating and the bear might feel threatened.

Black bears like to escape than battle. Black bears usually flee if you act threateningly by swinging your arms, yelling, shouting, and making yourself large.

Making loud noises threatens black bears and makes them turn away. However, this is not the same for grizzly or brown bears.

2.4. Play Dead

During an encounter with a grizzly or brown bear, never try to be loud and come out as strong and massive.

On the contrary, if grizzly or brown bear attacks, playing dead is a great idea. Try to play dead and do not fight back.

You’re attempting to persuade the bear that you are not a threat to it or its cubs by remaining still and making no noise. The bear can still be nearby if you stand up soon away. Wait until you are certain the bear has left for a few minutes.

2.5. Avoid Eye Contact

Depositphotos 216012554 L
By: Viculia/Depositphotos

Avoid making direct eye contact with black bears, as they will take it as an act of aggression. Avoid looking at the bear’s face since this could incite them to attack, but also keep an eye on them to see what behavior it displays next and wait till the bear leaves.

The grizzly bear may quickly flee just like the brown bear, but it is also possible to stare at you and then continue with whatever it was doing before. Alternatively, it might come up to you.

Nonetheless, you should avoid eye contact with them as well.

2.6. Make Sure the Kids and The Pets Are Safe

Gather any small children you see into your arms so you can prevent the possibility of them running, screaming, or crying out loud, as it might provoke the bear’s attention.

Also, make sure that every pet- dogs, etc. are kept on a leash at all times.

2.7. Back Away Slowly

Stay calm. You should back away gently while keeping your eyes on the grizzly bears, but you should make every effort to avoid making direct eye contact with them.

You should never turn your back on the bear for two reasons: one so that you don’t lose track of what it’s doing, and second, you don’t set off its Pursue reflex.

If the bear gets scared and flies away, you should follow a perpendicular path to the one it traveled. Get out of there if you don’t want to run into more trouble.

Stop moving and maintain your position if the bear moves closer to you. Maintain your composure and watch the bear closely for any hints about its state of mind or intentions.

2.8. Do not climb up a tree

Another myth set in our minds because of childhood stories is to climb a tree during a bear encounter. However, this could be dangerous in real-life situations. Since bears are excellent climbers, you can not outclimb a bear.

2.9. Put up A Fight

Fight back with all your force if a black bear charges against you. Do not play dead; use bear spray, boulders, branches, and direct kicks and punches at the bear’s face to defend yourself.

Fight back if a bear attacks you inside your tent or if it sneaks up on you while you’re hiking and then the bear attacks you.

This type of attack occurs relatively infrequently. Still, it can have significant consequences because it almost always indicates that the bear is searching for food and views you as potential prey.

Suppose you are out hiking and come across grizzly bears. In that case, you must contact a park ranger or another official working for a land agency as quickly as possible to assist in the prevention of other hikers coming into contact with bears.

A grizzly or brown bear attack normally becomes worse if you fight back, but if the attack keeps happening, fight back with all that you’ve got.

2.10. Bear Spray (Pepper Spray)

When venturing into the backcountry, it’s good to bring along some bear pepper spray just in case or for the worst. It is a defensive weapon to use during the attack mode that can stop an aggressive bear that is charging toward or attacking the user.

If growing big or staying calm doesn’t help, grab the pepper spray. This can be used against all species of bear.

Before spraying it on the bear, wait until it is 10 meters away, and then immediately leave the location.

Also, at times of danger, one can not get a proper hold of the situation. Therefore, before going on a hike, practice using bear spray so you will be prepared. Use your bear spray correctly.

Bear spray and human pepper spray are not the same things, even though they are used on an aggressor in the same way that mace is used on a person attacking you.

Be sure to go with a product bear country that has been given the go-light by the EPA and is intended to put an end to bears being aggressive. Because it is not a repellent, you should not apply it to any part of your body or your gear.

Check with the visitor center of the national park you intend to visit to see whether or not the use of bear pepper spray is recommended or permitted for the activities you have in mind.

3. What Measures Do People Take if They Get Involved in Bear Encounters?

bear
photo by Janko Ferlic / pexels

A trip to a national park rarely fails to be complete without at least one unforgettable bear sighting. Even while it is a thrilling experience, it is essential to keep in mind that the bears that live in national parks are wild and have the potential to cause harm.

Attacks on people are extremely uncommon, but they often result in serious injuries or even fatalities when they do happen. Their actions might often be difficult to predict. Because every bear and every encounter is different, no one approach can be applied universally to ensure one’s safety and work in all circumstances.

  • Keeping your food and trash in the right places is one of the easiest methods to prevent running into a bear outdoors. Because of their keen sense of smell, bears could be drawn to a campsite by the aroma of food.
  • All food should be stored inside or in a vehicle. Keep all food and smelly objects together, preferably in an odor-proof container. Ideally, this food will be far from your tent. Food scraps and other smelly items should be disposed of in a garbage container, advised Goldes.
  • It’s also crucial to check the direction of the wind. To prevent their odors from wafting into an area where people are sleeping, all food and foul waste should be kept downwind of your tent. You don’t want a bear to pass by your tent on its route to look for the source of the fragrance.
  • Keep a safe distance from the bears if you wish to observe them wisely. The majority of national parks mandate that you keep at least 200 feet or 300 feet away from bears, though the exact amount will depend on the terrain and the species you are seeing.
  • You can also prevent a bear attack by traveling in groups and avoiding bear cubs.

Your safety may be contingent on whether or not you successfully calm the bear. The vast majority of run-ins with bears result in no injuries. By adhering to some fundamental standards, the risk of potential harm can be reduced.

Always make sure to check with the nearest visitor center or backcountry office as soon as you reach a national park to obtain the most recent information on how to stay safe around bears.

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