What To Do If You Encounter A Black Bear

What to Do If You Encounter a Black Bear

Here are a few tips for staying safe in bear country and what to do if you encounter a black bear in a National Park or other backcountry wilderness with a large black bear population.

While it's not likely you'll have a close encounter with a black bear much less a human-bear brawl, it's important to follow bear safety tips and be bear aware at all times.

Always remember you should never get near or in between a mother bear and her cubs. This is one of the few scenarios that make a normally timid bear become an aggressive bear. It's also a good idea to make noise on the trail so you don't startle a bear. Remember they're wild animals; never try to feed bear or get too close.

Should you encounter a bear, pick up any small children with you and follow these steps.

Stay Calm

What To Do If You Encounter A Black Bear

Although it's easy to panic, try to keep your cool. Don't scream or run but speak in a calm voice with a firm tone.

Get Outta There (Carefully)

Try to find a clear escape route and slowly retreat without turning your back to the bear.

Break Out the Bear Pepper Spray

What To Do If You Encounter A Black Bear

If a bear approaches and begins to close the gap within 25 yards, you should be prepared to use your bear spray properly.

Don't Play Dead

While this may sometimes be a useful tactic with grizzly bears, playing dead is not going to save you in the event of a black bear attack. In the case of a defensive bear, try to appear non-threatening, at least at first. If that fails...

Fight Back

What To Do If You Encounter A Black Bear

Although black bear attacks are not common, they can be deadly. If a black bear charges and you don't have bear spray or a sidearm, grab anything you can and deliver blows to the bear's face.

Products featured on Wide Open Spaces are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.