Wild bears are nothing like Baloo – learn how to survive a bear encounter

Stef Zisovska
 
Grizzly
 
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Millions and millions of kids, including all of us here at Outdoor Revival HQ, have grown up watching one of the best Disney’s movies ever, The Jungle Book.

Every single one of us at one point wanted to be Mowgli and have a beautiful, fluffy, and funny bear for a best friend. Heck, one of the girls here at Outdoor Revival loves it so much I nearly bought her a bear suit last Christmas.

 

Grizzly bear

 

The thing to remember is that in real life, Baloo is not a harmless pal who teaches us how to sing and makes a fruit salad for us. Yeah, I know, it’s surprising but, wild bears don’t know how to cook! But, speaking of food, bears would gladly have people for dinner.

 

It’s not like bears want to attack people, they definitely don’t go out of their way to get to them, but when they do it is because they are hungry or more often want to protect their cubs from perceived danger.

We kill them more than they kill us, so it’s not very a very common thing to get killed by a bear. Bears are not going to chase you around the forest because they would prefer to leave you alone and be left alone.

Although, in the last few years bear-human encounter number has increased, including two fatal attacks in Yellowstone National Park in 2011 and 2015. And in 2016 a cyclist was killed by a grizzly bear in Montana.

 

Grizzly cub

Bear species have different attitudes depending on where they live, for example, the American black bear is relatively shy and skittish, unlike the polar bear is generally aggressive and in most cases sees people as prey, but hey, to most Polar Bears, everything is prey. Bear behavior depends on many factors such as food shortage, habitat loss, human intrusion and climate changes.

 

Brown bear

 

The Brown bear is the most widespread bear species in the US. Its nickname is ‘Grizzly’, is bigger than the black bear and has a very characteristic hump of muscles on its upper back. Conflicts between grizzlies and humans are raising in the US due to the growing population of bears and people so if you find yourself face-to-face with a brown bear keep these tips in mind.

 

  • Always carry a bear spray especially if you live in a grizzly country.
  • Don’t be quiet while walking through the woods, never surprise the bears and let them know you are visiting their territory by singing or talking loud. If you see a bear that is not aware of your presence, don’t disturb it.
  • If you meet a grizzly bear don’t run, try to stay calm and reach for your bear spray.
  • Faking death is the best thing you can do if the bear does attack you. Grizzly wants to eliminate you as a threat, so pretending to be dead is always a good option. Lay down for at least 20 minutes.
  • When you do drop down playing dead, don’t do it too early, or the bear may become inquisitive.

 

American black bear Photo Credit

 

Black bears are smaller than grizzlies, way faster and better climbers. If you meet them while camping it’s good to know these things.

  • Keep your garbage well packed and away from your campsite and carry a bear spray if you are camping in a country where the bears live.
  • Never climb a tree if you want to escape a black bear because they are probably better climbers than you.
  • It’s better to fight a black bear than to play dead. Punch it in the nose, make noise and don’t run. Try to make the bear run away from you.

 

Polar bear

 

Polar bears are the biggest on land carnivores in the world. They need to pile a lot of fat by eating seals and fish to survive the bitter Arctic winter.

  • You can’t scare off a polar bear, so the best thing to do is not meeting them at all.
  • Try not to disturb the bear and if it’s approaching you be loud, stand tall and act like you are bigger and stronger. It helps sometimes.
  •  Polar bear’s habitat does not offer you many places to hide, so your best option is to use a bear spray.
  • Do not run away, it can run faster.
  • Never play dead with a polar bear because what it wants is to eat you and by playing dead you are making the bear’s job easier.
  • Try to hurt the bear’s nose or eyes, that’s the only way to survive a polar bear attack.

 

Grizzly

 

The best way to prevent a bear attack is to avoid intruding on their habitat and if you are there make noise and make sure you do not surprise the bear or get between a bear and it’s cubs. They never attack first unless they are defending or hungry and generally the shortage of food happens as a result of deforestation and climate change, which is human’s fault.

 

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