What to Do If You Run Into a Bear
In recent years, bears’ natural habitats have increasingly been found to be at risk due to human activity, meaning they’re coming in contact with us more often. Some bears are small, but others can weigh up to 1,000 pounds. These animals can run surprisingly fast and attack when they feel threatened, so 5-Minute Crafts prepared a few tips on how to react if you ever happen to face one of these furry friends.
1. Avoid running into the bear.
Prevention is the first step that you can take. Here are a few tips on how to avoid running into them or how to spot them from afar:
- Walk on marked paths. Avoid closed trails because they are intentionally marked to protect visitors.
- Do not bring your pets. An unleashed dog, for example, can increase the chance of running into a bear.
- Do not give the bear access to your food. This is a preemptive step. Bears that taste human food can get aggressive toward people. This will encourage them to get closer to the campsites in search of food, which can lead to unpredictable behavior.
- Travel in larger groups. Bears will be aware of human presence from a greater distance, as groups are usually loud. This means that they will likely avoid contact with the group since it appears bigger in size.
- Never approach the bear. Many national parks have distance regulations based on how the terrain and what species of bears live there.
- Respect the animal and its space. Don’t get near them, and use binoculars and spotting scopes to look at them from a distance.
- Do not get near a baby cub. If you see a baby bear, do not try to help it or feed it. The mother is probably nearby and will likely attack you in order to protect the baby.
- Minimize the noise and the movement in a group. If you do, however, see a bear and are in a group, then stay close to each other and don’t make a lot of noise or quick moves.
Note: Different parks have different regulations regarding food storage. Some of them require food lockers, bear-resistant containers, or food bags that you can hang on a tree. Check the park regulations and safety codes before you bring your food with you.
2. Stay calm.
If you do run into a bear, it’s crucial to stay calm. Remember that bear attacks are actually rare, and these animals like to live in solitude. This basically means that they just want to be left alone.
Try to remain undisturbed, even if the animal starts to woof, yawn, salivate, growl, snap its jaw, or lay its ears back. This is a defensive reaction, and in this situation, you can talk in a low, calm tone, which will help you stay still and appear non-threatening to the bear.
- Never try to outrun a bear or climb a tree. This can trigger a predatory reaction from the bear. Bears can run more than 60km/h, which is more than twice as fast as humans can.
- Also, don’t attempt to imitate a howling sound, scream, or make sudden movements — it will be recognized as a trigger for an attack.
3. Identify yourself.
Show the bear that you are a human and not prey. You can do this by staying calm, standing your ground, and slowly waving your arms. Pay attention to its behavior — is the bear slowly approaching you and looking at you, smelling you while standing on its back legs? Many people think that this is in preparation for an attack but they’re actually not threatening, they’re just curious and investigating.
- Note: If there are any small children or pets, pick them up immediately, but again, slowly.
Another thing you can do is make yourself appear bigger. You can do this, again, by slowly spreading your arms and legs or moving to higher ground. Animals can perceive this as a sign that you are not prey.
4. Back away slowly.
Lastly, if you see that the bear is not moving, you can move away slowly, going sideways. Bears do not perceive moving sideways as a threatening act. Keep an eye on the bear as you are backing up, but if you see that the bear is starting to move toward you, then stop and stay grounded again. Also, be careful not to trip over something and fall while moving.
Try to leave the area, but if that is not possible, then wait for the bear to leave. Also, make sure that the bear can actually escape from you and check that you are not blocking any route where it can move away.