What to Do When Encountering a Black Bear

Black bear encounters in urban areas in the USA are becoming more and more common and very few people know what to do when this happens, and, what to do when encountering a black bear? Learn all about it in this article.

Sadly, the media, television, and movies have taught us to humanize wild animals, a very famous case was that of Cecil the lion. The first thing you must understand before anything else is that no matter how cute, fluffy, cuddly, adorable, and huggable the animal looks, it is wild and is governed by its instincts and that makes it unpredictable and dangerous.

Not to generalize, but the first thing we do when we see a wild animal, whether in its natural habitat or urban areas, is to take out our phone, start recording, approach it, feed it and take a selfie. This is the opposite of what we should do for our safety and that of the animals.

Why Shouldn’t You Interact with Animals?

What to do when faced with a black bear – Standing up All wild animals are afraid of humans and when we feed them, we are signing their death sentence.

Why? First of all, because the animal, a black bear (badger, raccoon, etc.) loses its natural fear of humans, begins to relate to people with food, discovers that people do not represent a danger and little by little this black bear will become bolder and more demanding to get food.

This could result (in the best case scenario) in its relocation, running the risk of being run over and killed trying to return to its territory. This is, of course, if the authorities can do so (unlikely).

The worst-case scenario is where the bear attacks a person resulting in injury or death which would mean searching for the black bear and euthanizing it.

How Big is a Black Bear

All animals are curious by nature and the black bear is no exception. It is opportunistic and if one comes along it will take it, garbage cans, the food at campsites, humans feeding it, etc.

Black bears don’t come down to our homes because they are starving, they come down because we give them food.

wild black bear

Regarding its characteristics:

It measures between 5 – 6 ft (1.50 m -1.80 m) long.

When standing it can measure up to 7 ft (2.10 m) in height.

It weighs between 200 – 570 lb (90 – 260 kg).

It is omnivorous, feeding on meat, insects, and plants.

Its fur is short, straight, and dark.

It has non-retractable claws of up to 2″ (5 cm).

What to Do if a Black Bear Approaches You

Encountering a bear is a wonderful experience, but it is important to remember that it is a wild and dangerous animal, and its behavior can be unpredictable. Every black bear and every experience are unique, so there is no foolproof recipe if you encounter one, however, you can follow these tips.

Tips and Advice on What to Do When Encountering a Black Bear.

Never approach a bear.

Stay calm.

Avoid making direct eye contact.

Don’t run, you will trigger their predator instinct and they are faster than you.

Walk backward slowly and calmly.

Do not surprise the bear if it has not noticed your presence. In bear territory, it is advisable to walk while making noise. A rattle or bell in your backpack is sufficient.

Take an upright posture and speak to the bear in a calm but firm voice. This helps the bear differentiate your voice from the sound of potential prey.

If you are with children, carry them and avoid shouting that could be mistaken for the sound of prey.

Put away food and carry your backpack.

If the bear walks in your direction, walk to the side to get out of its path.

Be especially careful if it is a bear with cubs, and never get between the cubs and the mother, as bears are extremely protective and will attack without warning.

Always leave an escape route for the bear.

If the bear snorts, snaps its jaw, or hits the ground, it is a warning to stay away and give it space. Back away slowly and speak to it in a calm, firm voice. If a bear is standing on its hind legs, it is curious about you, so try not to react and walk away slowly.

Don’t try to climb a tree. Despite what we see on TV, bears are excellent climbers.

It is recommended that you carry bear spray.

Finally, if the bear attacks, defend yourself and don’t play dead, this does not work with black bears.

Remember, having an encounter with a bear is amazing, as long as we follow these tips to avoid putting our lives in danger, but, above all, to respect nature.

By following these tips you will already know what to do when encountering a black bear.

black bear encoutering