Local Bear response

Local Bear response from Stu Whipple (former National Park Ranger)


Don, what a great sighting! Two cubs as well.

You did the right thing by getting out of there especially with the cubs around and you

with your dog. Good thing you had him leashed.

Here are some things you can add to your “best practice actions”



* Face the bear when walking away

* Talk or shout in a loud voice to show the bear you are a human (not food)

* Stand tall, do not crouch over or lower yourself.

* Air horn is a good idea generally, it is not necessary to carry repellant with black

bears unless they are very familiar with humans or have been fed by

humans (as in giving them something…not humans being eaten).

* If they charge (Black Bears especially), almost always it is a bluff charge so stand your

ground and “get bigger” open a coat, stand on a log, if two or more people

stand together with arms and voices raised, hold up a coat opened to appear

larger, shout in a loud voice. Keep your eyes from staring at them (hard to do).

When the bear ambles away you can clean out your underwear and breathe

deeply (not necessarily in that order).

* Avoid the area, especially if you have you dog with you. If unleashed and your dog

attacks the bear, your dog will lose.

* Talk as you walk (to yourself if alone or your dog) so bears can hear you coming…they

have really good hearing.


Do Not:

* Climb a tree, they are really fast at going up…and down.

* Run, they are related to dogs and have other predator qualites…like a chase instinct

when something runs from them. They can run 25-30 mph…faster than you,

faster than Bolt.

* Look them in the eye for the reason above…it is a challenge.

* Turn your back (same reason as above).

* Throw food, you are inviting an attack on the next person along.

* Try to pet the cubs because they are so cute or have your wife get a picture of you

standing next to the bear. OK for the wife to stand next to it while you take the

picture. (just kidding)

* Try to take a picture with anything but a long lens…keep your instamatics at home.


Bears are wonderful creatures to remind us of our human frailities. If you want to see bears fairly close up go to Great Smokies National Park. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of people more ignorant (and stupid) than you who are closer to the bear(s).


Stu Whipple



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