How to Prevent a Bear Attack

Bear encounters are no longer just a rural accident. This week, the bear was euthanized and taken from a backyard in a suburb of Haledon, New Jersey . In April, police in Asheville, North Carolina, received three reports of bear sightings in downtown. The two communities join a growing list of states, including Oregon , Connecticut , and North Dakota , that have seen an increase in bear sighting reports over the past few years.

If you’ve never come face to face with a bear, you may not be able to tell for a long time. So what do you do when someone calls your number? Do you remember your Boy Scout or Girl Scout training? If not, here are some tips, courtesy of the National Park Service, in case you find yourself on the wrong side of a bear encounter.

Name yourself. The NPS recommends talking calmly to the bear to give it a chance to identify you as a person and not prey. Feel free to use one of these hypothetical questions if you can’t start a conversation. Then be sure to stand still and wave your arms slowly. Don’t worry if he comes closer or stands up on his hind legs; it’s just an attempt to get a better look at you.

Don’t worry. The NPS notes that the bears do not want to attack people, they want to be left alone. They are bluffing you to get out of the fight, but you have to stay calm. Talking to the bear in a low voice will help to calm it and you, while yelling or making a sudden movement can provoke an attack.

Step back slowly. If there are two things you shouldn’t do when confronted by a bear, it’s to make sudden movements and turn your back. Bears perceive people moving sideways as non-threatening, which is important if your course of action is not to be attacked. By doing this, you will avoid tripping and falling, and you will also be able to follow the bear ( without making direct eye contact with the bear ).

Don’t run. If you have come face to face with a bear, now is not the time to run again . Bears can reach a top speed of up to 35 miles per hour. Usain Bolt himself could not outrun it.

Don’t climb a tree. I hate to tell you this, but bears can climb faster than you too. If your plan was to give up the land in favor of higher altitudes, you can just back yourself into a corner where a bear can easily climb right up and get at you.

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