What to do if you see a Bear
If you go hiking, you may one day encounter a bear. Therefore it is really important to know about how you should behave when this happens. BC is home to both black bears and grizzly bears. They tend to behave differently in a given situation, so first you need may want to know the differences between these bears. The protocol for bear encounters is different depending on the type you see.
Differences between Black Bears and Grizzly Bears
Grizzly bears are also called Brown bears. Don’t be deceived by their name! Both of these bears can be anything from blonde to dark black in color. You can’t identify a bear based on its color alone. The easiest way to tell if a bear is a black bear or a grizzly bear is to look for the shoulder hump. Grizzly bears have a very distinct hump on their shoulder area which black bears do not. Black bears are the most common type of bear near BC’s largest cities. Grizzly bears generally live in rural and remote areas of BC and thrive in undisturbed habitats.
What to do if you see a bear
Do not run/climb a tree
These Behaving in this way might cause the black bear to chase after you. Bears are good climbers.
Talk in a low, calm voice
Let the bear know you’re there so it can see you’re no danger to it. However if the bear is 300 feet away and hasn’t noticed your presence, making a quiet exit is probably your best course of action.
Back away slowly
Back away without making any sudden movements and hopefully you and the bear will go your separate ways.
What to do if a Black bear charges at you
Stand your ground
If the bear is still with you even after you have followed the above, slowly put your arms up around you or move to higher ground to make yourself look bigger. Black bears are generally timid animals.
Always leave the bear an escape route
As a last resort, you may want to fight back with all your strength, aiming direct blows at the bear’s face while using any weapon or object available to you. If you have bear spray with you, this would be the time to use it.
What to do if a Grizzly bear charges at you
Grizzly bears have an aggressive nature, and if you behave the same way as you would when seeing a black bear, you could make the situation worse.
Use Bear pepper spray
Lay ﬂat on your stomach with your hands clasped behind your neck. Spread your legs to make it harder for the bear to turn you over. It is likely that the bear will try to flip you over or play with your body. If this happens, instead of resisting, you should allow the bear to flip you, but roll all the way over so you end up face-down again.
Written by Natsumi Matsumoto