5 Myths About Bearsimage preview

5 Myths About Bears

Check out these 5 common bear myths to see how much you know. They can help you stay safe!

Myth #1 – Bears can’t run downhill.

Fact – Bears CAN run down hills and quite fast too. Bears can run in every direction and up to 35 m.p.h. so you will never out run them. Instead if you encounter a bear, don’t run but rather stand tall, wave your arms, and slowly try to back or move away from the bear’s area (if the bear starts following you, stop).

Myth #2 – Use pepper spray around your tent or campsite to keep bears away.

Fact – In field tests, wildlife biologists found that bears are actually attracted to sites sprayed with red pepper spray. Brown bears were repeatedly observed lying and rolling in the area where pepper residue was present. However, pepper spray has proven to effectively halt aggressive bear attacks when sprayed directly into its face.

Myth #3 – Bears have poor eyesight.

Fact – Though bears possess a keen sense of smell, they have good vision too. Bears see in color, sense movement easily, and have great night vision, giving them an advantage over humans in the dark. However, since bears travel close to the ground on all fours, they may not be aware of everything around them. Thus, they can be easily startled.

Myth #4 – Bears stand on their hind legs when ready to attack.

Fact – A predatory bear quietly attacks its prey from behind. A bear stands on its hind legs to identify: look, listen, and smell what is ahead. This stance is not an indication of aggression. If you suddenly encounter a bear while walking along, slowly step backward and off the trail, giving the bear space. Black bears are not territorial, but are generally shy creatures and will usually take the opportunity to retreat. Grizzly bears, however, tend to be more aggressive than black bears, especially if there are cubs around.

Myth #5 – A good way to get away from bears is to climb a tree.

Fact:  Not only can a bear run faster than you, it’s also a better tree climber. Black bears are especially good tree climbers and may send their cubs up a tree to escape. Grizzly bears do not climb nearly as well, and more often than black bears, use their size as an offensive strategy when threatened. So you may have slightly better chance at escaping up a tree if it’s a grizzly bear you see.

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4 years ago

Most informative! TY!

The ol’ story goes that the way to tell a black bear from a grizzly is in fact “to climb up a tree.” If the bear climbs up the tree behind you it’s a black bear; if it knocks the tree over it’s a grizzly ☺

4 years ago

Signs in other state parks tell you bears do not have good vision—-and Rangers do tell you that also. Why do they think that?

please clarify

Robert McGuire
Robert McGuire
4 years ago

Great information regarding bears. Anyone in bear country should carry bear spray and hope you never have to use it. That being said, bear spray should be carried conveniently located on your hip or chest that is easily retrieved and never inside your backpack that you must unzip a compartment to get to it. Be prepared!