November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Warding off black bears, what has worked for you??
Display Avatars Sort By:
Michelle Olsen
Warding off black bears, what has worked for you?? on 08/20/2013 01:17:41 MDT Print View

I have MS and I was in a wheelchair for 12 yrs but have recently gotten stronger and have just started jogging, which I am thoroughly enjoying! Making up for 12 yrs stuck indoors!

3 days ago, I encountered a HUGE black bear. I was jogging along, enjoying my music, and got a very strange feeling in the pit of my stomach. The feeling got so strong I stopped and looked behind me, only to discover a very large bear was running up the trail behind me! It was so surreal, I couldn't believe my eyes, like watching a video, this can't be real I'm thinking. And for a few seconds I just stood there watching his fat body bounce and his long brown fur twisting/swaying back n forth across the middle of his back with every stride. Then he got about 20-25 ft from me and I realized, he/she was not stopping!

There was no where for me to go, there was a steep hill to my right side, and a drop off to the river on my left, I slowly started backing away, but it kept coming closer, still not sure if it seen me or not. I don't seen how he couldn't, but maybe bears don't see that well, I dunno. Then I moved my hand and he/she ran up the hill away from me. Thank God!

Actually, I can't believe how calm I was, until after it was gone, then my heart was pounding hard out of my chest! And my car was parked at the opposite end of the trail, which meant I would now have to walk past that section where the bear was and then go 1 1/2 miles through thick trees to get back to my car. Plus, there wasn't another soul on the trail the entire way back. I called my husband on my phone so I wouldn't feel so alone until I got past the section where I had seen the bear. I could hear rustling in the bushes, now I was scared! I quickly walked past it and made loud noises and talked loudly, til I finally reached my car.

I'm using a different section of the trail now, but just learned that people have been seeing another bear, in this section too, a Mamma and 2 cubs. I've started carrying a whistle just in case I do see another bear, Everyone keeps telling me "They're more scared of you than you are of them, just make noise, they'll leave you alone".

For a couple days, I felt better about enjoying my daily runs, just by avoiding those areas and making noise.

Then today I hear on the news that a 12 yr old girl was jogging at her grandfathers property and got attacked by a black bear. He knocked her down twice, she picked up speed, and the bear pursued her and knocked her down a second time. She said after the 2nd time, she played dead and screamed for help. A neighbor heard her and sent her dad to help. They went onto say, that her dad chased the bear away. She had surgery and was able to go home today,

She was jogging at 9 p.m. at night,(it was 11:30 a.m. when I seen that bear).

Then tonight I hear, that 6 people were attacked by bears in one day in the U.S. - Coincidentally, on the same day I seen this bear....gee!

I love the outdoors! I want to explore everything I can while my MS is in remission. I'm getting stronger every day, but I want to be safe.

Any suggestions? What else I can do make noise, I don't want to use a whistle unless I see a bear, but since I'm jogging I need some way to let them know I'm coming and scare them away.

Thanks :)

EDIT: I'm sorry, I should have mentioned I am in Colorado, and the trail is located right here in town, it is a park trail which is goes approx 7 1/2 miles through a forest with alot of trees/berry bushes/ creeks and a river. There are usually hikers, joggers and bikers on the main trail every day, mostly in the mornings. Other joggers have told me there is a mamma bear and 2 cubs been seen 3 or 4 times since I have seen this one.

The particular section where I seen this bear, has kindof tight quarters, w/steep hill on one side of the trail, and a short drop off down to the river on the other.
UPDATE: I just learned something I didn't realize, I've been wearing a perfume spray, in case my deodorant is failing, not to offend anyone passing me one the trail, lol.

I feel like an idiot for even having to say this, but the fragrance is called "Cherry Blossom".... "HELLLO!!!" Maybe THAT may be what brought that bear out to run up the trail behind me, Makes me think, how could I be so stupid!

Edited by Kolorado on 08/24/2013 09:39:11 MDT.

Desert Dweller

Locale: Wild Wild West
Bears on 08/20/2013 03:13:25 MDT Print View

Get some bear spray, learn how to use it and always take it with you. Making noise, talking or singing is a good thing. Read Stephen Herrero's book "Bear Attacks" . I have also had a few run ins with bears and for the most part they don't want to have anything to do with humans and usually run away. More so in areas they are hunted, less so in areas where they get free food from human sources. And yes they don't see very well in some circumstances but their senses of smell and hearing are better.
I see kids here jogging in the woods with iPods and buds in their ears and in my humble opinion it's a set up for an accident or attack. Being aware of your environment is a huge part of surviving the environment.

Last May, I was sitting on a rock by a spring one day at noon taking a break, and had removed my shoes and socks when a good sized bear came around the bend on the trail and just strolled right at me. I'm a hunter, so it occurred to me that I was sitting in the shade, dressed in green and perhaps he did not see me as the sun was rather as he approached I grabbed my left sock and proceeded to get my socks and shoes on as fast as I could. The bear got within 30 feet of me and stopped abruptly having seen my movement, got this "oh crap" look on his face and turned uphill and ran off into the brush. I jammed my feet into my shoes and threw my pack on and walked quickly downhill down the trail away as fast as I could, knowing one should never run from a bear. It kind of shook me up a bit, but as I am armed I was not really too worried, and after a mile or so I was laughing remembering the look on his face. But ever since then I've been more vigilant on that trail and don't stop at the spring for long...others might want a drink!

Edited by Drusilla on 08/20/2013 03:19:01 MDT.

Bogs and Bergs
(Islandized) - F

Locale: Newfoundland
re Bears on 08/20/2013 05:01:59 MDT Print View

I'd also recommend reading up, knowledge is power! That poor little girl tried running away, and that probably sealed her fate. Acting like neither a threat nor prey is the best response with black bears.

I hike solo in black bear country and very, very rarely see them. Recently I've been picking their blueberries, too, so I've made it a point to talk to them the whole time. Never had to use the bear spray, not even when I got between a mother and her cubs.

NOT PANICKING is the most important thing you can do in an encounter, I think. The animal will detect your fear, and the fear alone is enough to make you a potential threat. Panicked animals (people included) are irrational and unpredictable. An animal that might leave you alone otherwise is going to have to respond to that fear. It can't trust you.

If you're jogging, maybe bells on your wrists or ankles? And a small bear spray can, mounted where you can get at it instantly. Practice with the spray.

But don't stop going out! Your story is an inspiration.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Warding off black bears, what has worked for you?? on 08/20/2013 06:14:41 MDT Print View

In most case of black bear aggression, the victim tried to run away. Most mammals feel compelled to chase anything that runs away from them.

Even a grizzly will usually back down if a person stands their ground.
For some reason bears have an instinctive fear of things taller than them. People have terrified black and grizzly bears by holding a hiking stick, bicycle, pack, ... above their heads.

There are a few case where bears have been so desperately hungry that they will go after the scent of food in a persons tent. And a mother can attack the person who got between her and her cubs.

Best to make some noise on the trail if you don't want to see bears. They have very good hearing.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Warding off black bears, what has worked for you?? on 08/20/2013 07:06:36 MDT Print View

Where did this happen (community/general location)?

Urban, urban edge, or in the woods?

What's your guess on this bear's opportunity for "food crimes"?

What does "Dept of Wildlife" have to say about bear problems in that area?
(And, if possible in the heat of the moment - look for an ear tag. It will help when you talk to DoW)

This could be a "one-time-confused" bear, a repeat offender, or a sick bear (to cover the spectrum), and your actions will have to adjust accordingly.

Edited by greg23 on 08/20/2013 07:34:10 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
What should you do if you find yourself face-to-face with an aggressive bear? on 08/20/2013 10:54:23 MDT Print View


Zorg Zumo
(BurnNotice) - F
Predatory behavior is a reality - some folks won't believe it on 08/20/2013 11:28:23 MDT Print View

Lots of folks have been taught (incorrectly I might add) that Black bears are less dangerous than Grizzlies. And folks have been taught that "the bear is more afraid of you than you are of him" - also a load of hooey.

The fact is that Black bears kill more people than Grizzlies. Just the fact's ma'am.

You encountered predatory behavior. The bear was sizing you up for a meal. Why you didn't get munched is beyond me.

The lightest option for dealing with a bear is a dog (assuming you don't have to carry the dog). Doesn't have to be a big dog, but it shouldn't be a kick-me dog either. The extra pair of eyes and ears really helps and the defensive posturing of your dog gives you time to figure out your next move. I hike solo all the time in bear country and I have one or more dogs with me.

The second lightest option is a can of bear spray. Personally I think a 230gram can is the minimum, but I can understand the logistics of jogging with one. The spray works.

I'm all for firearms - but that's a pretty serious committment $-wise for jogging with MS.

Bears that don't run off, turn sideways and angle in towards you mean you harm. Ditto with cougars that act like a housecat sitting in the trail.

Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"Warding off black bears, what has worked for you??" on 08/20/2013 12:19:04 MDT Print View

I've never had a problem with blackies. I've encountered them hiking and even on the road while out walking my dog. They can be remarkably unaware of their surroundings and I would not be surprised if the bear running up the trail the OP was on didn't see him at first. I generally shout at them to get their attention "Hey Bear!" I had one bear I had to do this three times before it even noticed me. It was intent on foraging.

The game changes, of course, when it's a mama with cubs. I've never encountered one close up, fortunately.

I carry bear spray, and a gun. I've never needed either one, so far, and hope to keep it that way by practicing good habits in bear country.

peter vacco

Locale: no. california
Re: Warding off black bears, what has worked for you?? on 08/20/2013 12:28:19 MDT Print View

bear spray (the regular size 8.1oz unit),and attitude.

if the animal will not back off within a reasonable time (be patient), walk directly on over, and spray the beast. is should leave.
if a bear is following you, that's not a "contact", that's a "problem".
it is a pending attack. and it needs to be dealt with just as sure as you'd deal with a strange man following your daughter around.

i recently weighed the magnum 10.2 oz rei bear can. it's 14.5oz. that's too much extra mass for what it brings to the table

piece on earth, good spray towards man.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Predatory behavior is a reality - some folks won't believe it on 08/20/2013 12:42:18 MDT Print View

>"I see kids here jogging in the woods with iPods and buds in their ears and in my humble opinion it's a set up for an accident or attack. " +1 Desert Dweller. The year I got my first iPod, I saw 5 grizzlies on the trail. I realized I couldn't let my mind wander and detach that much from the sounds and setting I was in. (Undistracted, I see 1, 2 at most, per year because I'm making noise, especially where background noise, sight lines and food sources up the risk).

>"Black bears kill more people than Grizzlies". There are many more black than brown bears. 10 times more in my area*, 100x to infinitely many more for most hikers. Black bears overlap with the suburban and rural housing of many, many people while grizzlies are a wilderness creature for the most part. As such, black bears much more often get habituated to humans and human garbage as a food source. As a species, yes, black bears cause more problems, injuries, property damage and human deaths. Per bear? I don't fret about scaring off a black bear. I'm MUCH more careful around grizzlies and the data shows it is more important to respond correctly to the particular situation and the particular bear's behavior (surprise, protection of cubs, predatory, injured, etc).

* And yet I see more grizzlies than black bears. In areas where both are present, black bears keep a very low profile. In areas without grizzlies, I see black bears a long ways off munching on spring grass like cows in a field. They make good sausage and roasts.

>"The lightest option for dealing with a bear is a dog." Lighter than a leash is your voice. Making noise is the single most effective way to avoid bear encounters with either species. And the lightest. Dogs are a wild card. They will often alert to a bear's smell in the area and if you notice that and retreat together, you are probably safer. But if they are roaming ahead or to the side and encounter a bear, sometimes they can running back to mom/dad human with a bear in pursuit. Not good.

>"but I can understand the logistics of jogging with (spray)." Cops run with their sidearm. Spray weighs much less. A shoulder holster of some sort could hold spray tightly to you but also be ready to use. An advantage of spray is that is legal more places than a firearm. And, with predators of the two-legged variety, while both a gun and spray can be quite the deterrent, spray used against you doesn't kill you. And spray has little monetary value whereas guns are very resellable for nearly their retail price and scumbags all know it (i.e. you could be a target of theft / robbery).

>"I'm all for firearms" I'm okay with firearms for someone who is well-trained and carries an adequate caliber (e.g. minimum 12-gauge rifled slug or .300-magnum rifle for grizzlies. Most friends who carry up here go with a .338 rifle). Unlike hunting, this won't be a carefully aimed, 250-yard shot and then letting the animal bleed out for 30 minutes. Everything is over in a few seconds, and it takes an awful lot of gun and good shot placement to put down a bear that quickly. But if fishing an Alaskan stream or hiking a northern trail is your excuse to play Dirty Harry with a .44 magnum revolver, please save a few pounds and just carry spray. The average outcome will be better for you (and vastly better for the bear). Better yet, make noise.

Edited to add: Now you have three Alaskan perspectives. I'm counting Peter as an honorary Alaskan because while he doesn't live here, he has done vastly more far-north, very-wilderness travel than most any PFD-drawing Alaskan.

Edited by DavidinKenai on 08/20/2013 12:47:55 MDT.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Re: Bears on 08/20/2013 12:56:41 MDT Print View

How to avoid unfortunate bear encounters - listed in order of preference.

1. Knowledge - Bear habits. Signs of aggression vs. curiosity. When and where is a bear apt to be, then try not to be there then.

2. Common sense - knowing what precautions are advisable for where you're hiking and then taking them. Are bears a realistic risk here? Should I be hiking somewhere else instead?

3. bear spray - if the risk warrants. Caveat - like an ice axe you must know how to use it before the need arise. Buy two; practice with one before you go.

4. Marlin .45/70 with 400 grain solid cast bullets. A last ditch effort for when you must traverse a known dangerous bear habitat. There are very few of these in the lower 48 states. Again, you must know how to use it and where to aim. Even more important - know when NOT to use it. Yogi reacts very badly to being shot. Do you really want to get his undivided attention?

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Warding off black bears, what has worked for you??" on 08/20/2013 13:18:56 MDT Print View

I'm with Dena; this doesn't seem like predatory behavior so much as that the bear was unaware of the OP's presence. The OP doesn't mention shouting to the make the bear aware of her presence; then, she scares the bear away by waving her hand. Maybe a fuller description of the encounter would change this interpretation. But a bear bolting off into the brush when it becomes aware of a human's presence, as this bear did, seems to suggest that in this instance it just didn't see or smell the OP.

That said I have read of black bears stalking people. Pretty uncommon in the lower 48.

Edited by book on 08/20/2013 13:20:03 MDT.

Richard May

Locale: Swamplands.
bear bells? on 08/20/2013 13:18:58 MDT Print View

What's the story behind jingling along the trail to keep bears at bay?

(asks the sub-tropical onlooker who's never seen a bear in the wild... wait, I saw a female with cubs when I drove through Shenandoah 13 years ago.)

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: bear bells? on 08/20/2013 13:33:41 MDT Print View

Richard, the joke is, "Black bear scat has grass, berries, and ground squirrel fur in it. Grizzly scat has fish bits, mammal bones and small bells in it."

We (in Alaska) have bear bells but haven't used them on ourselves for ages. It kind of bothersome - all that noise so close to you and they're not as loud as a shout or banging rocks together when you really need to make noise (such as when wind or water noise is masking your normal hiking and talking noise).

We do use them whenever the dog is along. Partial because the dog definitely ups the risks and upsetting a bear (she's not aggressive at all, but roams ahead and chases down interesting smells). And the dog runs and bounces much more than we do, so she makes more noise with the bells. It also gives other hikers a little warning that an overly friendly black lab is coming up the trail. (Her black fur could be momentarily mistaken for a black bear).

The dog loves to wear them because she associates it with the fun of going on a long hike. She goes bonkers as soon as we take them out of the closet.

I'd like to see more mountain bikers use them so I could step off the trail before being run over.

Harrison Carpenter
(carpenh) - M

Locale: St. Vrain River Valley
+2, Desert Dweller on 08/20/2013 13:53:27 MDT Print View

Staying aware of what's around you is the key, IMHO.

I'm from da UP o' Michigan; black bear encounters are relatively common. As early as elementary school, we were taught to "go out with a friend" (to have more than one person paying attention), and "never fall asleep" (be vigilant) whenever we went out into the boondocks. We were told to "stand tall" and "hold your ground" if we came upon a solitary, adult black bear; and if we saw a cub/sow combo, or a lone cub, "head home" (that is, back away slowly. Running was always said to be unwise-- or as one teacher put it, "it makes it into a chase, and guess who's the prey?"

I've come across black bears a number of times-- maybe 10-12 times-- and for the most part, the bears have been rather dismissive of me, and when I've stood still, they've walked off. Perhaps my BO is frightening. :-)

Cameron Wilson
(CJW) - F
Re: Warding off black bears, what has worked for you?? on 08/20/2013 17:24:48 MDT Print View

Please don't wear headphones or ear buds while jogging. Do you remember hearing about that poor girl being killed by coyotes a couple years ago? She probably wasn't aware of them soon enough.

How to keep them away? Stop moving, make noise, shout at them, throw something, etc. Do not run away. If you do run away you are prey. If anything, taking a couple steps towards them won't hurt anything. Normally they really are more scared of you.

I normally have dogs with me and a 44 special. We have lots of bears and there have actually been a couple of attacks this year.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Warding off black bears, what has worked for you?? on 08/20/2013 17:59:50 MDT Print View

Every time that I have had a confrontation with a black bear, it is the bear that runs away from me. Generally when I see a black bear, I try to get the photo first. Then I figure out what the bear is going to do. If it is looking for prey, then I am it, but I've never seen that. If it is already dining on other prey, then I am smart enough not to approach. If the black bear is poking around a campsite, then it is looking for food of some sort. Generally I can just run straight at the bear, waving my arms, and I either scream bloody murder or else bark like a pack of rabid dogs. Bears hate dogs. In each case, the bear or bears have run away from me at top speed.

If it really freaks you out, then bear spray is the best alternative. I always carry bear spray with me in Yellowstone, but that is mostly for grizzly bears. In some national parks, they actually forbid the use of bear spray since it is intended for grizzly bears and might be overkill for black bears.


Edited by --B.G.-- on 08/20/2013 18:12:38 MDT.

blackies on 08/20/2013 18:09:45 MDT Print View

60 people killed by bears in 100+ years, many by bears in captivity, or bears conditioned to people.

Ill take my chances.

You have a greater chance of dieing in a car wreck on the way to the woods, or being murdered in you home.

My black bear encounters have ranged from the bear running away at warp speed, to just calmly watching me walk by. Nothing in his contract that says he has to be afraid or run.

Edited by livingontheroad on 08/20/2013 18:14:05 MDT.

Zorg Zumo
(BurnNotice) - F
Re: Re: Predatory behavior is a reality - some folks won't believe it on 08/20/2013 18:14:39 MDT Print View

The subject is jogging with black bears in the lower 48. Not sure the relevance of the "Alaskan perspective".

Black bear populations have risen dramatically over the last 30 years and folks are encountering bears close to suburbia. However, IMO, there are still bear myths propagated - and I'd prefer folks understand predatory behavior in bears (and cats).

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: blackies on 08/20/2013 19:33:03 MDT Print View

>"60 people killed by bears in 100+ years, many by bears in captivity, or bears conditioned to people. I'll take my chances."

MB: My god!, someone who considers the actual risk and puts it in perspective! I bet you're not paranoid of flying on jet planes, either.

>The subject is jogging with black bears in the lower 48. Not sure the relevance of the "Alaskan perspective".

Er, because we and our friends and companions deal with this many times a year, rather than once every few decades? But to each their own. Carry your Model 1911 .45. Fret about a encounter with a black bear. Been there, done that as a 5G Californian. Black bears, rattlesnakes, asteroids, autism-by-vaccine and flying at 37,000 feet don't particularly worry me anymore. Polar bears (if I'm on foot), honey bees, and hippos in African do still give me pause. Heart disease, cancer, and driving to the trailhead - much more so.