If You Encounter a Bear


Photo by Dave Baker

While black bears can be tolerant of people, they should always be treated as the wild animals they are, whether in a residential or backcountry area. Black bears are rarely aggressive towards people and typically go out of their way to avoid contact. As human development continues and bear numbers increase, however, interactions will be unavoidable.

Following these simple guidelines will minimize any unnecessary and potentially dangerous encounters.

  • Never approach a bear!
  • Black bears are extremely powerful animals whose behaviors can be unpredictable.
  • Black bears are very curious animals and this should not be confused with aggression.
  • If a bear approaches you in the wild, it is likely only trying to assess your presence.
  • Bears will often stand upright to obtain a better sense of smell.
  • If you see a black bear from a distance, alter your route of travel.
  • When camping in bear country, keep all food stored in a vehicle or away from tents.
  • If approached by a bear- stand your ground, raise your arms to appear larger, and yell until it leaves the area.
  • Never run from a bear! This will often trigger its natural instinct to chase.
  • If a black bear attacks, fight back aggressively and do not play dead!

If cornered or threatened, bears may slap the ground, “pop” their jaws, or “huff” as a warning. If you see those behaviors you are too close! Slowly back away while facing the bear at all times. Notify the KDFWR immediately if you witness aggressive behavior by black bears!