video of grizzly bear bluff charging with Scenic Bear Viewing
Instagram, Scenic Bear Viewing

Video: What It Looks Like When a Bear Charges You

Would you be able to stand still?

Scenic Bear Viewing, a guiding company out of Homer, Alaska that specializes in flight-based bear viewing trips, recently posted an incredible (and frightening!) video of bluff, or fake, charge by a brown bear.

The video shows a guide and clients standing on a beach, at a safe distance of 50 yards from the bears they are photographing. Suddenly, one of the brown bears turns to the group and charges top-speed through the water at them. The clients have clearly all been briefed on proper bear safety, as they all stand together and shout at the bear. The guide, Martin, calmly steps up to meet the charging bear, heading him off, and the bear veers back into the water.

Scenic Bear Viewing runs many of their tours in Katmai National Park, long considered one of the premier places to view brown bears. The park is home to the world famous Brooks Falls, a waterfall that brown bears stake out every summer to snap up the sockeye salmon swimming upriver to spawn, and the equally famous Fat Bear Week, a yearly competition in which the internet votes for the thicc-est bear at the falls.

The beaches along the Pacific Coast of Katmai, similar to where the video was taken, also have some of the highest densities of bears in the world. Bear sightings are almost guaranteed, and as Scenic Bear Viewing explains, bears in Katmai have been visited for almost 30 years. It's part of the bears' daily lives to see humans photographing and admiring them.

However, despite being habituated towards human presence, the bears are still wild animals, and as such are unpredictable.

Basic Bear Safety

brown bear

Thankfully, the guides at Scenic Bear Viewing are pros at what they do, and the video is a perfect example of how to handle a charging bear. Most bear attacks, particularly brown, or grizzly, attacks, are because the bear is surprised or feels the need to be defensive. When in bear territory, make noise to ensure any bear in the area knows you're there, and if you come across a bear, never approach it and back away slowly, maintaining at least 50 yards distance.

If a brown bear does charge you, stand your ground just like Martin did in the video. While your first instinct may be to run, (trust us, we wanted to run just watching that video!) running can trigger a bear's prey drive, and not even Usain Bolt could outrun a bear on the hunt.

Many bear charges are bluff charges, which are fake charges that are simply meant to scare or intimidate you. The bear will puff itself up, have its head up and ears forward, and leap towards you. The bear is basically playing a game of chicken with you, so stand your ground, wave your arms, and speak loudly. When the bear realizes you're not a threat, or at least one that isn't worth messing with, it will stop or veer off to the side, just as the bear did in the video.

If the bear is aggressive, it will yawn or clack its teeth, or pound its front paws into the ground. If a bear is charging with the intent to take you down, its head will be down, its ears pointed backwards, and it will come barreling at you like a freight train.

Advice differs depending on if the bear is a black bear or a brown bear, but just remember the old adage: if it's brown, lie down and if it's black, fight back! When black bears attack, its generally of a predatory nature, so fighting back is your best bet, whereas when brown bears attack, its to neutralize a threat, so you should make yourself as unthreatening as possible by playing dead.

No Need to Be Bear-anoid

Don't let the fear of a bear attack (bear-anoia, if you will) keep you from enjoying the outdoors. Bear attacks are incredibly rare, even in Alaska. Make sure to brush up on your safety tips before going into bear-territory, carry bear-spray (bear-strength pepper spray), and keep your distance from any bears you encounter. Not only will it keep you safe, but it will also keep the bears safe.

READ MORE: Guide Expertly Spooks Away Grizzly Bear That Gets Way Too Close