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What to Do If You Encounter a Grizzly Bear

If you're heading out on a backcountry hunt or a hiking trip to Yellowstone National Park, here's how to survive a grizzly bear encounter and avoid serious injury.

While not incredibly common, grizzly bear attacks can occur whenever you're in bear country and fatal incidents in North America have made headlines several times in the last couple years.

Because these subspecies are very different and exhibit very different bear behavior, you should respond differently to grizzly or brown bear attacks than you would black bear attacks.

Here's what to do.

Walk, Don't Run

If you come in contact with a grizzly, do not run. Your odds of outrunning a bear are slim to none. Carefully and slowly begin to walk away.

Avoid Eye Contact

Do not look a grizzly directly in the eyes, especially if it appears to be an aggressive bear.

Think Big

If the bear approaches, try make yourself appear bigger by holding your arms up and waving or standing on an elevated surface. Stand your ground rather than trying to escape.

Prepare the Bear Pepper Spray

Get ready to use bear spray if the bear charges within 25 feet. You'll want to create a cloud of the spray between you and the bear. Some outdoorsmen also choose to carry large-caliber handguns where legal.

Keep Your Cool

Although you'll be sweating bullets and screaming on the inside, try to maintain your composure and use a calm voice in a steady monotone.

Assume the Position

Should the grizzly continue to come after you, play dead. Lie down on your stomach with hands wrapped around the back of your neck and legs spread so it's more difficult for the bear to move you.


If all else fails, fight for your life. Aim blows at the bear's face until it relents.

To prevent a life-threatening situation in the first place, always practice bear safety. Make noise while you're walking to alert surrounding animals of your presence and avoid a defensive bear. And keep any food packed away in bear-proof storage.