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10 Myths About Wild Bears

10 Myths that may Save your Life when it comes to Knowing, Encountering and Understanding bears. Brown Bear Running

Photo Credit: I, Malene via Wikimedia Commons

Myth #1:  Bears are Aggressive and Unpredictable

Fact: Bears actually exhibit body language and vocal cues that tend to offer clues about their intentions.  For example: Huffing and slapping the ground are defensive behavior intended to scare and intimidate.

Myth #2:  Once a bear has a taste for human food, it won’t eat wild food anymore.

Fact:  Bears are usually only are drawn to human food when their preferred wild, or natural foods sources become scarce.  Human foods tend to be easy to get when times get tough.

Myth #3:  If a bear charges you, climb a tree.

Fact: Wrong!  When it comes to black bears, they tend to feel more courageous in trees, and have been know to someone kill each other by throwing opposing bears out of trees.   Perhaps you haven’t seen this video:  Bear & Man… Face to Face!

Myth #4:  One of the most dangerous encounters is getting between a mother bear and her cubs.

Fact: OK, this is complete true at least for Grizzly Bears, however not so with Black Bears, whom can tree their cubs when they feel threatened. Back to mother grizzlies… they tend to perceive you as a threat, and might act to defend her cubs.  Advisement would be to be quiet, make yourself smaller and slowly retreat, without turning your back to her.  Oh, don’t make eye contact.

Myth #5: Play dead during a bear attack.

Fact: Playing dead will work if you are being attacked by a mother grizzly especially if she is defending her cubs.  However, it’s the worst thing to do if you’re being attacked by a black bear.  If physical contact is make with a black bear, go on the offensive, and fight for your life.

Myth #6: Bears can’t run down hill.

Fact: Tell that to the Elk in this next video.  Bears can run more than 30 miles per hours, or 48 kilometers an hour for us Canadian.  They can do it up hills, down hills, on slopes and side hills.  Quick math = 15 m/sec or 50 ft/sec.  The average human only runs 15 km/h.  Scary Note: A bear can outrun a racehorse over short distances but has little endurance.  Now back to the Elk:

Myth #8: Bears have poor eyesight.

Fact: Bears see in colour and have exceptional vision similar to humans. Moreover, their night vision is excellent, and they are particularly attuned to detecting movement.  Similar to the family dog or cat, bears have amazing night vision. There is a reflective membrane on the back of their eye called the tapetum lucidum which reflects light and causes light sensitive cells to react a second time to the light and therefore greatly enhances their vision at night. This is why if you see a picture of them at night, their eyes look greenish.

Read more for tips on Avoiding Grizzly Attacks.

Attribution Photo:
I, Malene, CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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