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Why You Never Want to Try And Outrun a Charging Bear

Bears are Fast

It’s hard to tell from looking at them from a distance, but bears are really fast.  They can cover a huge amount of ground in a few seconds, and their lumbering gait can actually represent speeds in excess of 35 MPH.  Not only that, but they are extremely powerful, and one swipe of their paws can knock over a car and destroy a body.

What to do When Chased

Keep in mind that bears generally prefer to be left alone and don’t go after humans unless provoked.  This usually occurs if we encroach on their territory, pose a threat to their young or somehow get in the middle of them and their next meal.  That being said, it’s almost impossible to tell what we’ve done to irritate a bear into chasing us.  However, the reasons are not nearly as important as getting out of the situation alive.

You will probably encounter either a black bear or a grizzly.  Grizzly bears are found in the western United States whereas black bears are in the east.  Black bears are more inclined to attack on the offensive and put up a fight until the fight is done.  You never want to play dead with a black bear.  Rather, you want to enlarge your profile, never turn your back to one, and always meet the challenge head-on.  Take a stick, branch or other object and use it to smack the ground in front of you and point it at the bear.

Make a lot of noise and make yourself look like you’re ready to put up a good fight.  Chances are that the bear will be bluffing and lumber off.  If not, then you need to be ready to fight and get hurt in the process.  This isn’t the best news to hear, but it’s a reality that you must be prepared to accept whenever you’re in bear country.

Grizzly bears are a little different.  They prefer to fight and give chase defensively, and they usually lose interest if you leave their territory or play dead.  Backing away slowly while keeping your profile as large as possible are also excellent defensive steps to take.  Grizzly bears can also attack if they are startled, and wearing some bells or making noise as you are hiking can alert them to your presence.  Chances are that they will keep their distance as long as you don’t pose a threat.

Be Aware and be Prepared

 

You want to be aware of any bear activity in the area that you will be hiking, camping or surviving whenever possible.  This will help you to choose your routes, campsites and shelters more wisely.  You also want to be prepared by having a rifle or defensive weapon on hand so you don’t end up having to deal with hand to bear combat if the situation arises.  There are also bear “pepper sprays” that get mixed reviews in terms of their effectiveness, and many people swear that they have caused bears to stop dead in their tracks and break off their attack.

In any case, you never want to try and outrun a bear no matter what.  Keep in mind that they are also excellent climbers and swimmers as well.  Always be mindful of your surroundings, know about bear habitats if you are in bear country and be prepared to respond accordingly if you do encounter one in the wild.  The more you know can end up preventing an attack from occurring in the first place.

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