Black bear attack

Black bear attacks

Black bear attacks are extremely rare, but they do receive a lot of attention which can lead us to erroneously believe that the Black bear attack is a very common thing and that Black bears are vicious animals that love to chase down humans. The truth is that even though a myriad of people spend time camping, hiking, picnicking and generally enjoying the outdoors in known Black bear habitat each years, it is only a miniscule fraction of them that even get close to a Black bear.

This does not mean that Black bears are harmless; they are huge predators that can cause lethal injuries to a human if they feel threatened. Especially female Black bears with cubs must be treated with extreme caution since the female Black bear is more prone to attack when she has cubs to defend. Black bears are not cuddly teddy bears. They should be treated with respect, and following a simple set of guidelines is a good idea if you want to avoid a Black bear attack while spending time in Black bear habitat.  

The first rule is to make sure that the Black bear discovers you before you get to close. A Black bear attack is often the result of a surprised Black bear that feels threatened and cornered. If you make noise when you hike, the Black bear will often pick it up and leave the area. Strong winds can however mask your sounds and prevent the bear from noticing you until you are face to face. Fortunately enough, the Black bear is equipped with a highly developed sense of smell. If you make sure that you have the wind in your back, your scent will be carried to the Black bear and give it a chance to leave before you show up. Having the wind blowing in your face can increase the risk of a Black bear attack, since the bear will receive no scent warning.

The second rule is to avoid attracting hungry bears. Leaving garbage around your tent can make Black bears scavenge the area for food, and this will of course increase the risk of a Black bear attack. The same thing is true for improperly stored food supplies. Cooking can also attract Black bears, and carrying out the cooking at a safe distance form your camp site can therefore be a good idea if you want to decrease the risk of a Black bear attack even further. 

If you suddenly encounter a Black bear, slowly walk away from it without turning around. Do not run, since this can trigger a Black bear attack. Direct eye contact may be perceived as a threat and can therefore also increase the risk of a Black bear attack. Black bears are known to “bluff charge”, which means that they will look like they are carrying out a Black bear attack while they actually intend to stop within a few feet from you. If a Black bear starts running towards you, shout and make loud noises.

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