All bears are dangerous, but regardless of species you are at greatest risk if you surprise the bear or get between a mother and cubs. Even the “less dangerous” bears will prey opportunistically when they are hungry. And they will attack if you appear to be competing for their food sources or if you corner them and they feel threatened.
Black — Black bear are reputed to be not much of a threat to humans, but they can scare the willies out of you when they wander into camp looking for a free meal. However, contrary to their mostly benign reputation, black bear have been responsible for more than fifty human fatalities in North America in the past hundred years. One such incident happened in May of 2000 when a female hiker was attacked and partially eaten by a 112-pound female black bear in Tennessee.
If a bear comes into camp:
- Do not run because that will trigger an attack response.
- Keep all your movements slow and deliberate.
- Do not approach the animal.
- Pick up small children so they will not be perceived as prey.
- Bang pots and pans together or make other loud noises.
- Wave your arms above your head to make yourself appear larger.
- Leave an escape route open so the bear won’t feel cornered and forced to fight its way out of the situation.
- Move upwind of the bear so it can identify your scent as human (not its normal prey).