Encountering a Black Bear
If you encounter a Black Bear it is likely to react in one of four ways.
1. Fleeing Bear
In most cases, a bear will hear or smell you before you are aware of it. Even if you surprise a bear, it will most often flee the area. Reacting to a fleeing bear... Enjoy the fleeting sight of a wild Black Bear.
2. Habituated Bear
Some bears lose their fear of humans from frequent human contact or from being rewarded with human food or garbage. These bears may not respond to our attempts to dissuade them and may react defensively. Reacting to an Habituated Bear... Stay calm and determine if the bear is aware of you. If the bear is unaware of you, move away quietly. However, if the bear is aware of you, talk to the bear in a low tone, wave your arms, back away, and leave the area. If you are near a building or car, get inside as a precaution. If the bear was attracted to food or garbage, remove it after the bear leaves to discourage the bear from returning.
3. Defensive Bear
A defensive bear will respond in a defensive manner if it perceives you as a threat or if it is defending a food source. It may use vocalizations such as huffing, blowing air loudly through nostrils, exhaling loudly and "popping" of teeth, and may swat the ground with its fore paws, lowering its head, and drawing back the ears. As well, a defensive bear may resort to bluff charges. The bear is feeling threatened by your presence and is trying to get you to back off. Reacting to a Defensive Bear... Stop and face the bear. If you are with others, stay together and act as a group. Make sure the bear has a clear escape route. Slowly back away while watching the bear and wait for it to leave. Use a whistle or airhorn, or bear spray if you have them. Do not turn and run - this may trigger a predatory response in the bear. Do not climb a tree - bears are excellent climbers.
4. Predatory Black Bear
On EXTREMELY RARE occasions, a bear will attack humans with the intent to kill. Predatory bears seldom make huffing or "popping" sounds, nor do they swat the ground with their forepaws, or bluff charge as defensive bears sometimes do. Instead, they silently stalk, or press closer and closer to their intended prey, apparently assessing whether it is safe to attack. Reacting to a Predatory Bear... Leave the area in your canoe or car if you can, but never turn and run. If you cannot leave, confront the bear. Do everything in your power to make the bear think twice about attacking you. Be aggressive, yell, throw rocks, hit the bear with sticks, and use your whistle, airhorn, or bear spray if you have them. If a predatory bear does make contact with you, do not play dead. Fighting back with everything you have is the best way to persuade a predatory Black Bear to halt its attack.