How to Scare Off a Bear

by Ben Team
Bear walking alongside the shoreline.

Bear walking alongside the shoreline.

Whether camping in black-bear-occupied eastern forests or the wide-open west, where brown bears and some grizzlies still roam, outdoor enthusiasts must learn how to scare away a bear if the situation arises. While most bears are more interested in avoiding humans than attacking them, these large, powerful animals can be very dangerous if they feel threatened. Loud noises, demonstrative behaviors and deterrent sprays often intimidate bears and scare them into leaving. Bears are attracted by your food, hang it out of their reach and don't store it in your tent or on your person.

Allow Bears to Escape

When trying to frighten away bears, give them an easy way to get away from you. When bears feel cornered, they are more likely to initiate an attack. This is why it is important to be aware of your surroundings while hiking through bear country. By talking calmly aloud while you are walking, most bears will hear you coming, and move away before you even get close to them. If you see bear cubs, avoid them at all costs, as mother is usually close by.

Create a Cacophony

Loud noises frighten most animals, and bears are no exception. If you find yourself confronted by a bear, create a ruckus -- the louder the better. You can shout, scream, clap your hands or bang pots together. Electronic personal alarms can also help scare bears away. Avoid advancing on a bear, while making loud noises; ensure he has a way to retreat.

Stand Tall

Like most other animals, bears are less likely to attack large, seemingly formidable animals, than they are those that do not appear so dangerous. Use this to your advantage by raising your arms over your head, spreading your coat with your arms or waving something in the air. If you are traveling with others, clump yourselves together to appear as one large animal. This not only helps prevent the bear from singling out a member of the party, but it helps to intimidate the bear as well.

Spray the Danger Away

A number of commercial bear deterrent sprays are available at camping and hunting stores, and they may help to frighten nuisance bears. Unfortunately, these sprays are only effective at rather short distances, up to about 15 feet. Accordingly, you must be careful to spray the bear’s eyes, while avoiding the irritating mist yourself. Always check the local regulations before traveling with deterrents, as some locations, such as Yosemite National Park, do not permit their use.

Do Not Run or Play Dead

If you are unable to scare the bear away, and the bear becomes aggressive, you must fight back. Do not run, as bears are much faster than humans and it may elicit a predatory response from the bear. Use any items available, such as rocks or sticks, to strike the bear to mount the most effective defense.

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