What To Do When You Meet a Bear

Wild animals and their behavior

What to do when you meet a bear? Let’s start by saying that all wild animals have one characteristic in common; an area around them that they consider inviolable. So know that when you meet a bear, if you enter this area, the animal attacks because it feels threatened.

This is why wild animals do not allow themselves to be approached to be petted.
Do not be fooled by videos found on the net, if a person caresses a bear it is because it was raised as a child in captivity and has lost its wild characteristics.

However, even in this case there are many episodes of animals returning wild and attacking for no apparent reason.

Unfortunately, this area is variable, so there is no golden rule that establishes the limit of a safe distance. But know that the greater the distance between you and the animal, the less chance a bear will attack you.

Always keep at least 100 meters away is an advice that I suggest you observe.

Wild animals dislike human contact and therefore tend to stay away from you unless you are giving them a good reason to approach.

The behavior of bears

Bears are omnivores, they eat everything and, depending on the area where they are found, they have somewhat different diets. They eat berries and also grass, but if necessary they hunt and eat even large animals.

Alaskan bears are among the largest thanks to the abundance of salmon.

Bears are great walkers and can move many miles per day. Also know that a bear can exceed 50 km per hour of speed.

Another notable feature is the ability to climb trees and rocks.

Because a bear might attack you

When it encounters a bear it may attack you in most cases for various reasons:

  • is a female with cubs
  • he notices your close presence in a sudden way
  • she is eating another animal and protecting her food
  • she is hungry and recognizes you as prey

Always remember to ask the authorities of the place where you are for information, behaviors vary from area to area.
The bears in a park where tourists often give them food behave in a very different way from the Kamchatka brown bear who knows little about man.

If you have food with you, it is a must that you store in suitable containers. The smell of the food attracts the animal like a magnet. He will not hesitate to attack you to get it.

female bear with cubs in Yosemite National Park – Photo by Jeremy Bishop

What to do when meeting a bear to prevent an attack

A Grizzly Bear that stands up on its hind legs can reach 3 meters in height. So you understand that it is best to avoid meeting him at close range.

The best strategy to avoid meeting a bear is to walk in a group and make some noise.
Chatting a lot or singing a song or making noises are practices that by themselves drastically decrease the chance of meeting a bear.

If you are hiking alone singing will help you a lot, make noise anyway.

Another tip for what to do when encountering a bear to prevent an attack
consists in the collection of information.
Try to study bears as much as possible in order to have a good knowledge of both the animal and its habitat.

Remember that each area of ​​the world has its own different bear population with different characteristics that need to be studied.

When you arrive in the park where we will do our excursion.

It is good to ask the rangers or local institutions for information on the presence of bears and their recent behavior.
It is the best way to get certain and fresh information on the situation in the area.

Bringing your pet dog with you is a mistake, in fact it does not work as a deterrent and even less as a defense, while instead it can even be the cause of an attack.

Defense strategies from a bear attack

What to do when you meet a bear, despite being careful, a bear is right in front of you! Then it’s time to put your defenses in place. What will happen to you in the next few minutes depends almost exclusively on how you have prepared for this event.

What to do when you meet a bear, the first thing to do for some it comes naturally while for others it has to train, is to stay calm.

It is natural to be afraid, but if you know how to dominate it you will be able to manage the situation and in most cases even prevent the attack from occurring.

What to do when you meet a bear tip: deadly attacks are relatively rare and usually the animals before attacking “advise you to move away“, they make you understand.

So the first thing is to stay calm and the second to try to understand the intentions of the animal.

Si vis pacem, para bellum” wrote the Roman writer Vegezio in the fourth century AC, or if you are looking for peace, prepare for war.

Bear Spray is the most effective way to prevent a bear attack

In countries where it is possible by the law, I strongly recommend to have a pepper spray specifically for bears.
If a bear approaches you more than 6 or 7 meters, use it without hesitation, don’t think, do it!

The pepper spray for bears is a natural deterrent that can save both you and your pet’s life.
Remember that in some countries the bears that attack humans, even if they do so to defend the cubs, are considered problematic and are killed.

For bear pepper spray to be effective, you need to know how to use it. The most important thing is to keep it in a holster as if it were a gun.

It must be able to grip and use it in a very short time. Keeping it inside your backpack is equivalent to not having it, if you are under attack you will never have time to extract it.

If you have enough time, take it out, remove the safety and get ready by pointing it at the animal. Talk to it calmly and continuously, keep it under fire, stand tall, open and move your free arm.
This will serve to make him understand that you are human and not prey.

If the attack starts, wait for it to be 6 or 7 meters away from you and then use the spray.

I suggest you to watch NPS Bear Spray Introductory Video or Bear Spray

It is very important to understand how to use the pepper spray for bears.


It is a product that despite being natural can cause serious problems in humans.

Bear Spray

If you don’t have the pepper spray

If you don’t have pepper spray then it’s time to get brave and sell your skin dearly.

Siren Bear Deterrent

Siren Bear Deterrent can be useful in many cases. In fact, animals do not like noise and that of a siren at 130 db can be enough to make the animal give up.
Also in this case I recommend that you keep it at hand, speed and everything in these cases.

Food or trash as a cause of bear attack

If you have food in your backpack, immediately remove the backpack and throw it away from you. The animal is likely to follow the backpack, and if so, while it tries to open it, take the opportunity to move away.


Never turn your back on him, walk backwards or to the side and never lose sight of him and get away as much as possible.

Watch this majestic bear grapple with the garbage. Note the calm and tone of voice that the cops use to keep him calm as they try to free him

If you don’t have any food in your backpack, then you are the target of the attack.

If you don’t have any food in your backpack, then you are the target of the bear attack and probably a female who protects her cubs is attacking you.

Use the siren and if the attack continues, drop your stomach on the ground.

Protect your neck with your hands keeping your arms open and pretend to be dead.


Another way is to lie on the ground on one side curled up in a fetal position, always with the hands to protect the neck and the legs to protect the stomach.

If the attack does not stop then he fought with all your strength.
Bears like many other animals have few weaknesses to attack with bare hands; the nose is the main one, hit it mercilessly.


The other weak point are the eyes, if you manage to hurt him, he is likely to flee.

At the American NPS site, anyone who is attacked by a black bear is advised to avoid pretending to be dead.


This strategy is specified that it only works with Brown Bears or Grizzlies.


So if you are attacked by a black bear, fight directly remembering to aim for the nose, if you can hit it even with the help of a stick, you are probably safe.

Conclusions on what to do when you meet a bear

What to do when you meet a bear as you have seen is never taken for granted. Each meeting is a story in itself with its implications and outcomes.

Attacks with fatal outcomes are quite rare but they are there, so reconnecting with the beginning. It is best to do everything possible to avoid close encounters with a bear.

If on your path you see traces of its presence, for example fresh excrement, change the area or retrace your steps.

I would like to point out here that there are no “bad” bears. Bears are bears and it is only in the interaction with humans that they can become problematic.

Being alpha animals, they have a fundamental importance in biodiversity and must therefore be protected and safeguarded. At the same time they should not be underestimated.

When sharing the same spaces, take care and be aware of the potential risk they represent.

For the sake of completeness visit the List of fatal bear attacks in North America, you will get an idea of ​​how many fatal attacks are in North America and their reason.

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