If you love the outdoors, you’ll likely find yourself camping as often as you can. While you take in the beauty of nature, you should not let your guard down since there may be dangers lurking in the woods. Of course, you’ll want to know how to survive a bear attack.
And no, we’re not talking about the supernatural kind. We’re referring to nature and its denizens, the animals. Among the more prominent creatures are the bears but of course, you might encounter other animals like wolves, snakes or moose, all of which can kill you.
Bears may look cute when you see them looking for food in the garbage in parks. In fact, you may have even seen that adorable video of a mother bear teaching her cubs how to cross a road.
But, you shouldn’t take this as an opportunity for a selfie with the bear in the background. Bears can do a lot of damage when they attack humans.
Even though bears do not normally attack people, bear attacks do happen. The main reasons bears attack are when they are surprised or they’re hungry. So, if you encounter a bear in the wild, you may want to be wary of it.
If you’re the object of a bear’s unwanted attention, how do you think would you survive a bear attack? But, before we tackle the issue of surviving an attack, let’s talk about bears first.
- Herrero, Stephen (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 320 Pages - 04/01/2018 (Publication Date) - Lyons Press (Publisher)
What are Bears?
Bears are mammals that live in North and South America as well as Asia and Europe. They can be as small as four feet long and as big as eight feet long.
These animals have non-retractable claws, short tails, and a remarkable sense of smell. Bears normally live alone with the exception of the mother and her cubs.
Bears have a lifespan of up to 25 years in the wild. There are eight species of bears: brown bears, North American black bears, Asiatic black bear, sun bears, giant pandas, Andean bears or spectacled bears, polar bears, and sloth bears
Most bears normally hibernate during the winter as a way to survive since food is scarce at this time. When they hibernate, bears lower their heart rate, metabolism, respiration, and body temperature.
Bears are mainly omnivores and they love honey. The different bear species also have a preferred diet, including seals for polar bears, berries for American black bears, and bamboo for giant pandas.
Why do Bears Attack?
Before we discuss how you can survive a bear attack, let’s take a look at the why. We indicated earlier that bears normally attack when they’re hungry or when they’re startled. But, these types of attacks can be considered as a defensive type of attack.
There are two types of bear attacks: defensive attacks and predatory attacks.
Defensive attacks involve mainly in the bear defending its young or its food. So, when you get too near its young or its food source, the bear will likely attack you.
They will attack since they will perceive you as a threat and they want to eliminate the threat.
One instance that this may happen in the wild is when you go hiking and get too close to some bear cubs. A female grizzly may attack you because of this.
Similarly, jogging in the woods may lead you to encounter a bear and its cubs along the path. At this point, the bear may defend its young and attack you.
This type of attack also happens when you startle a bear. For instance, you take out the trash at night and you end up startling a bear foraging for food in your garbage. At this point, the bear may immediately respond and attack you.
While defensive attacks are mainly about the bear protecting itself, its young, and food, predatory attacks are completely different situations. In these attacks, the bear may be looking at humans as food.
In these situations, the bear will be stalking you and you will see it doing this. The good news is that these types of attacks are rare.
But, when this happens, it’ll be good if you know what to do to survive this situation.
Tips for Surviving a Bear Attack
Now that you know a thing or two about bears, let’s take a look at what you can do to survive a bear attack. The following are generally what you can do to survive a bear attack:
Play Dead – if you’re the subject of a defensive attack by a bear, you can play dead. When you do this, the bear will not see you as a threat anymore. At this point when you’re not considered as a threat, the bear will walk away.
Try To Scare It Off – when you see a bear stalking you in a predatory attack, you can try to scare it off. You can do this by yelling at the bear or throwing things at it.
At this point, when you become a bigger threat than the bear initially thought, it may be discouraged from attacking you. You may even try to find a stick and use it as a weapon.
But, you can also make loud noises or gestures that appear to be threatening to the bear. You should show the bear that you are a bigger risk to it if it attacks you.
Use a Bear Spray – a bear spray is a non-lethal defensive weapon you can use to stop bears from attacking you. It uses a cloud of capsicum derivatives that can temporarily affect the bear’s ability to breathe, smell, and see. A bear spray can have a range of around 25 feet.
You should spray it when the bear starts charging from 30 to 60 feet away. You should make sure the bear passes through the cloud you sprayed.
In case the bear doesn’t change direction, you should spray it on its face.
Avoid bear encounters as much as possible – as the popular saying goes, “prevention is better than a cure,” you can survive a bear attack if you avoid encounters in the first place. If you see a bear in the wild, avoid it and don’t disturb it. You should also be careful where you pass when you enter bear country so you can avoid any unintended encounters with these animals.
These may increase your chances of surviving a bear attack, but your actions may also depend on the type of bear you encounter. You should keep in mind that some types of bears behave differently from others.
How to Survive a Bear Attack
Bear Attack Survival: Specific Bear Types
Due to this, let’s now talk about what you should do when you encounter the different types of bears.
#1: Brown Bears
To survive a brown bear attack, you should do the following:
- Use a bear spray – it’s recommended you bring one if you’re in bear country
- Do not run – running will be useless since the bear can outrun you. You should stand your ground and slowly reach for your bear spray. If the bear stands out of curiosity, you can slowly move away while holding the bear spray.
- Drop to the ground – if the bear charges, you should drop to the ground and take a fetal position while using your hands to protect your head, neck, and stomach.
- Play dead – brown bears normally attack when they feel threatened or are surprised. So, if you show that you’re not a threat to them by playing dead, they tend to stop attacking.
#2: North American and Asiatic Black Bears
Surviving a North American and Asiatic black bear attack will require you to do the following:
- Use a bear spray – this is very useful when you encounter bears in the wild.
- Stand your ground and make some noise – black bears are not as aggressive as the brown bears. They also have a tendency to run away when they encounter conflicts.
- Don’t climb a tree – black bears are excellent climbers, so it’s useless to get away from them by climbing the nearest tree. They also tend to chase anything that is fleeing from them. So, you should stand your ground instead.
#3: Polar Bears
If you’re attacked by a polar bear, you can do the following to survive it:
- Use a bear spray – a bear spray is your best defense against a polar bear.
- Act as a threat rather than prey – polar bears are likely to see you as prey rather than a simple threat. While it may not easily be intimidated, you can stand straight and act as if you can harm it. If you are entering areas where polar bears roam, it’s best to bring a weapon with you.
- Don’t play dead – unlike other bear species, you cannot simply play dead when it comes to polar bears. These bears are likely interested in eating you, and you will only make it easier for them if you play dead.
#4: Other bear species
When you’re attacked by the other species of bears, you can follow the general guidelines in surviving it:
- Use a bear spray – this is the best recommendation if you want to survive a bear attack.
- Play dead – other species of bears normally attack when they feel threatened. When they feel you’re not a threat, they will move away from you.
- Avoid an encounter – if you’re in bear country try to avoid bears as much as you can to prevent any attacks from happening in the first place.
- Stand your ground and act like a threat – you can stand and make as much noise as you can to give the bears the idea that you’re not someone for them to mess with.
How to Survive a Bear Attack: Top Choices for Bear Sprays
Since a bear spray is your best non-lethal weapon against bears, you may be interested in getting one. We also went ahead and looked for a couple of bear sprays you may want to buy. Check them out below:
Guard Alaska Bear Spray
- EFFECTIVE BEAR PROTECTION - Includes ONE (1) Guard Alaska 9 oz. bear repellent spray canister (4...
- TESTED & PROVEN - Guard Alaska was intensively tested for six years in the Alaska wild, and it is...
- 9 SECOND CONTINUOUS SPRAY - Releases 9 ounces of bear protection in 9 seconds, or may be fired in...
- MAXIMUM STRENGTH - 1.34% total capsaicinoid formula, 9 ounce (255 Grams) UltraMag shotgun size...
- ENVIRONMENTALLY SAFE - Does not contain flammable or ozone depleting substances - Only EPA approved...
The Guard Alaska Bear Spray is an EPA-registered bear repellant that has been tested intensively in the Alaskan wilderness for six years. It can release nine ounces of bear protection at a distance of 15 to 20 feet. It is also environment-friendly and does not contain any ozone-depleting or flammable substances.
SABRE Frontiersman Bear Spray
- MAXIMUM STOPPING POWER, LABORATORY : The only bear spray with an In-House HPLC lab to maximum...
- GREATEST PROTECTION AT A SAFE DISTANCE - 30 FEET: Maximum range and protection, traveling up to 10...
- GREATEST PROTECTIVE BARRIER PER BURST: Rapidly deploys a heavy fog of 1. 58 oz (45 grams) per...
- SAFER FOR YOU, THE ENVIRONMENT & EVEN THE BEAR: Frontiersman incapacitates a bear’s ability to see...
- RIGOROUSLY TESTED & PROVEN EFFECTIVE FOR CERTAINTY & PIECE OF MIND: EPA & Health Canada approved;...
The SABRE Frontiersman Bear Spray offers a maximum range of 30 feet when it delivers the EPA-approved formula to drive away bears. It has been field-tested and provides optimal protection against brown bears, black bears, and polar bears.
Counter Assault Bear Repellent Spray
- FARTHEST REACHING BEAR REPELLENT - Counter Assault is the industry leader in bear repellent spray...
- “HOTTEST” FORMULA ALLOWED BY LAW - 2% capsaicin and related capsaicinoid products temporarily...
- 7 SECOND CONTINUOUS SPRAY - Our spray lasts longer than basically any other brand with the same size...
- ONLY BEAR SPRAY TO MEET ALL EPA REQUIREMENTS FOR S.N.A.P. CERTIFICATION - This is the only bear...
- MADE IN THE USA - Made in Montana (bear country), by American workers with American materials!
The Counter Assault Bear Repellent Spray is the farthest-reaching bear spray in the market. It can be effective at a distance of up to 40 feet.
The formula is also effective against all eight bear species.
Have your Say about How to Survive a Bear Attack
Do you have any tips or tricks for surviving a bear attack or any story of such an encounter? Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think.
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Last update on 2020-05-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API