Spring is a difficult time for bears. They’re awake, hungry and there isn’t a hell of a lot to eat. I’m sure they feel a lot like you before your morning coffee. Spring bear encounters are even more dangerous because there may be cubs and mama bears are notoriously protective.
When you encounter a bear, you know you should stand your ground and make yourself look bigger. With grizzlies there really isn’t a definitive answer on how to deal with a bear attack. Start by making yourself look bigger and yelling, then try playing dead. Use force as a last resort. You only survive a grizzly if it lets you. The same goes for polar bears who are probably more interested in eating you than neutralizing you as a threat.
If it’s a brown or black bear, stand your ground. Try to make yourself look bigger and shout to scare it off. If you’re surprised, you may take to your heels before you remember your scout training. If that happens, just how screwed are you?
While a grizzly bear can reach a top speed of 30 miles per hour, the smaller black bear can reach an impressive 40 miles per hour. In case you’re wondering, Usain Bolt can only manage 28 miles an hour, and over rough terrain, a bear will have much better balance and endurance. Verdict: You cannot outrun a bear.
And don’t even think of climbing a tree, bears are faster and more agile than you unless you’re some sort of parkour master.
OK, so now you’re facing down a charging black or brown bear. If you have a can of bear spray, arm yourself and be prepared to spray. Stand your ground until the bear is within spraying distance, then let him have it.
No Spray? Lie face down and lace your fingers over the back of your neck and play dead if it’s a brown bear. With black bears it is better to fight back. Aim for the nose and eyes and punch poke and shout to scare it away.