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What to do in an encounter with a bear?

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When crossing ‘bear country’, be sure to make sufficient noise – whether by talking, whistling, or stomping your feet – in order for bears to sense your presence from at least 30 meters away. If you move quietly, you may stumble upon a bear’s ‘personal space and startle it. Feeling under threat, the bear can react on an impulse and simply run over you before retreating. Usually you will get away with a bruise or two, some scratches and cuts and a big fright.

When scared, the bear will try to scare you back. It will stomp its paws, or break off branches form trees or uproot entire bushes to show off its strength. Then it will rear up on its hind legs, a tactic that makes it look taller, while lunging at you with its front paws, grunting and snorting and uttering hoarse threatening cries. If this also fails, the bear will give out a mighty deafening roar, bare all its teeth and snap its jaws at you, but will never attack you.

A bear standing upright is a curious bear, taking in the scene and then, typically, retreating.

When confronted with an angry bear, do not run away but stand your ground while talking to the animal, softly and in a monotone. This is sure to deter it. Throw an object a little to one side and away from you to distract its attention. If the bear rears up and starts sniffing the air, stay still, but never stop talking. If it starts coming towards you, keep talking while retreating backwards, slowly and without any sharp movements.

Bears do not like to feel ‘trapped’. If you have inadvertently blocked a bear’s escape route, you risk being run over. Quickly take cover behind a rock or a tree trunk and make way for the bear to retreat.

The absence of any reaction or body motion on your part will make the bear believe that the threat is over. Therefore, even if it knocks you down, lie still on your belly, or curled up in a ball, cover your neck with both arms and do not move until the animal is safely away!


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