What Should You Do if a Bear Attacks You?

How to escape from a bear

Update: Our foremost recommendation for anyone who will be entering into territory that has bears is to purchase bear spray.


This will usually never happen when you go camping.

We even share some statistics down below to give you a solid perspective.

But when it does...

How to Escape From a Bear

1. Lie still and be quiet.

Documented attacks show that an attack by a mother black bear often ends when the person stops fighting.

It's in your best interest to avoid provoking the bear in any way unless absolutely necessary.

2. Stay where you are and do not climb a tree to escape a bear.

Black bears can climb trees quickly, easily, and will subsequently come after you.

Like the above, the odds are that the bear will leave you alone if you stay put.

If you begin to run, the bear will think that you think it is prey.

3. If you are lying still and the bear attacks, strike back with anything you can.

Similar to fending off a shark, go for the bear's eyes or its snout with anything you have.

The bear will not bother going after you if it believes it may sustain life-altering injuries, like blindness.

What should you do if you see a bear

What to do if you see a Bear

  • Make your presence known by talking loudly, clapping, singing, or occasionally calling out (some people prefer to wear bells). Whatever you do, be heard--it does not pay to surprise a bear.
  • Remember, bears can run much faster than humans.
  • Keep children close at hand and within sight.
  • There is no guaranteed minimum safe distance from a bear: the farther, the better.
  • If you are in a car, remain in your vehicle. Do not get out, even for a quick photo. Keep your windows up. Moreover, do not impede the bear from crossing the road.

How to Avoid an Attack

  • Reduce or eliminate food odors from yourself, your camp, your clothes, and your vehicle. This is usually why they show up in the first place.
  • Do not sleep in the same clothes you cook in.
  • Store food so that bears cannot smell or reach it.
  • Do not keep food in your tent--not even something like a chocolate bar. Waking up to a bear in your sleeping bag is not a pleasant experience.
  • Properly store and bring out all garbage.
  • Handle and store pet food with as much care as your own.
  • While all bears should be considered dangerous and should be avoided, three types should be regarded as more dangerous than the average bear. These are:
    • Females defending cubs.
    • Bears habituated to human food.
    • Bears defending a fresh kill.

Be Aware

Are bears with cubs dangerous?

There are about 650,000 black bears in North America, and only one person every three years is killed by a bear--although there are hundreds of thousands of encounters.

Most bears in the continental U.S. are black bears, but black bears are not always black in color: sometimes their fur is brown or blonde.

Males are generally larger than females (125 to 500 pounds for males, 90 to 300 pounds for females).

  • Bears can run as fast as horses, uphill or downhill.
  • Bears can climb trees, although black bears are better tree-climbers than grizzly bears.
  • Bears have an excellent sense of smell and hearing.
  • Bears are extremely strong. They can tear cars apart looking for food.
  • Every bear defends a "personal space." The extent of this space will vary with each bear and each situation; it may be a few meters or a few hundred meters. Intrusion into this space is considered a threat and may provoke an attack.
  • Bears aggressively defend their food.
  • All female bears defend their cubs. If a female with cubs is surprised at close range or is separated from her cubs, she may attack.
  • An aggressive reaction to any danger to her cubs is the mother grizzly's natural defense.
  • A mother black bear's natural defense is to chase her cubs up a tree and defend them from the base.
  • Stay away from dead animals. Bears may attack to defend such food.
  • It is best not to hike with dogs, as dogs can antagonize bears and cause an attack. An unleashed dog may even bring a bear back to you!

Pour Conclure

Once more relating it back to shark attacks, the best defense against a bear attack is to avoid one.

Seal up that food.

Leash up that dog.

And when in doubt, punch it in the snout.

Ending seriously, however, if you do happen to see them, leave them alone and get as far away as possible!

The information presented to you here today is from Joshua Piven's book, The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook - an excellent on-the-go addition to any hiking pack or bug-out-bag.

However, something like the SAS Survival Handbook will be more practical for everyday use while outdoors.


-Alexander @ Survival Cat


If you're gearing up for your next adventure, take a peek at our catalog and see if there is anything you'll need to accompany your travels.

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