Tag Archives: Wildlife

How to Survive a Black Bear Attack!

What do you do when you encounter a black bear in the wild?

black bear

First, it is important to know your bears! Black Bears are different from Grizzly Bears, which are different from Kodiak Bears, which are different from Polar Bears. These differences are more than color and size. Different bears have different mannerisms and habits.

In this post we will focus on the black bear, which is the most common bear in North America.

Meet the Black Bear 

Color: Black bears can be found in a variety of colors ranging from black to light brown, or even blond.

Body Shape: Bears all have a similar build. They do vary a great deal in size, and black bears don’t have the large shoulder hump that grizzly bears have.

Weight: Black bears are smaller than grizzly bears. Though they can occasionally get bigger, the average male black bear can weigh between 200 and 300 pounds, with females typically being somewhat smaller.

Claws: Yes! They certainly have claws and, while not as large as those of the grizzly bear or polar bear, you still don’t want them swiping at you with them.

Location: Black bears are the most commonly found bear in North America. They range thought all the provinces of Canada and 41 of the 50 American states. Black bears are very common in the Adirondack Park.

How to Survive a Black Bear attack!

American black bears are know to occasionally attack humans. But given the choice, they would rather flee than fight. They’re smaller, faster and better climbers than grizzlies. 

1. Be bear aware!

This means leaving your damn earbuds in the car! Traipsing through the woods with Welcome to the Jungle blasting your eardrums is not a great idea, especially in bear country. Bears are quiet, and almost impossible to hear coming as it is. Stay tuned to the environment, not your music. Carry bear spray in areas where black bears are active. Keep food and trash packed away. And make some noise while walking through the woods. It is not a good idea to surprise a mother bear with her cubs.

Carry a good bear repellent spray!

Bear Spray can certainly help, but it’s not as critical as with grizzlies. Black bears are less aggressive and will move off if they hear you coming. However, a mother bear will still protect her cubs if she thinks they are threatened. This is deeply ingrained in her, because male bear will often kill cubs. Try to spray when the bear is within 40 to 50 feet of you, creating a barrier of bear spray between you and the approaching bear.

Stand your ground!

Since black bears are less aggressive than grizzlies, you should try to present yourself as something large and loud and something to be feared; they’ll usually leave you alone. Shout, wave your arms, and create a big commotion. Do anything you can to make yourself look bigger. Most importantly, just like with grizzlies, never run from a black bear. First, they can outrun you. Second, they often will charge in an attempt to bluff, and the best strategy is to stand your ground with your bear spray ready to fire if the bear gets too close.

Keep your feet on the ground!

Never, ever climb a tree to escape a black bear. They’re really excellent climbers, and they tend to chase anything they think is running away.  There’s a good chance the bear will simply trap you in the tree, and could even climb up after you.

Do NOT play dead with a black bear!

This has been known to work with grizzlies which are true predators, and unless starving, will only eat what they actually kill. Black bears, on the other hand, are scavengers. If you play dead and they are hungry, they may decide to eat you. 

Fight back!

Unless you’re physically not able to, it’s far better to defend yourself against a black bear than to simply fall down on the ground and play dead (See previous section). If you end up in “close quarter combat” with the bear, use any available object as a weapon to defend yourself. If nothing is handy, punch or kick at the bear’s nose, eyes, and ears. Attack the sensitive areas that are more likely to get an immediate reaction. Do whatever is needed to scare it away. Work to create distance between you and the bear, but do not run away. The bear will simply chase you. You have to make the bear decide to run away.

New Release

I am soon releasing a a collection of short stores called Adirondack Bear Tales on Kindle and in paperback. The book is based on my series of blog post on Adirondack Bear Tales. You can read one of these posts here. I hope you will check my new book out when it becomes available.

If you enjoyed this post and feel like you want to buy me a cup of coffee, just click the link below. Thanks!

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Adirondack Bear Tale #7: The Demise of Old Three-toes!

The Demise of Old Three-toes.

Old three-toes was a very grouch bear.Three-toes was a grouchy, old bear. He was also big for a black bear. Folks around Burketown who occasionally spotted him estimated he might weigh between 450 and 500 pounds. This is fairly large for an Adirondack black bear. You knew when old three-toes was poking around from his distinctive tracks. His left fore-paw was missing the two outer toes, leading of course, to his nickname. Nobody really knew how he’d lost those two front toes. Speculation was abundant. Maybe he’d lost them in a fight with another bear, or perhaps a near miss with some kind of bear trap. Whatever the cause, it almost certainly contributed to his sour disposition.

A couple of camps down Burketown Road from my grandparent’s camp and in the direction of Burke’s Marina, lived a friend of the family. A local contractor and handyman, he’d built the camp belonging to my other grandparents on the lot next to ours near the end of the road. For the sake of this story, I will call him Mike.

As of late, old three-toes had become the frequent topic of discussion up and down the road.  Folks spotted him on the prowl regularly and he’d been getting in to some real mischief, causing damage to camps, screen windows, front porches, etc. So far nothing serious had occurred, but many felt it was simply a matter of time.

On this particular morning, Mike got up early to go fishing. And, living alone, began cooking himself breakfast. He’d opened the front door to his camp to allow the cool, crisp morning air to pass through the screen door. Unfortunately, this also allowed the smell of cooking bacon to waft its way out through the screen door, and be carried along on the same morning breeze. The tantalizing smell of cooking bacon proved to be irresistible to old three-toes who happened to be passing by. The bear turned, and followed the enticing aroma right up to Mike’s camp screen door.

Three-toes decided that the screen door was not going to keep him from getting to that delicious smelling bacon!  Mike heard the crashing sound of three-toes clawing right through the screen door. He turned in time to see the big bear coming down the short hallway to his kitchen area. Mike quickly retreated from the kitchen area and in the opposite direction. He made his way to his den where he kept a loaded 12-gauge shotgun on his rifle rack.

Mike grabbed the 12-gauge and headed back to the kitchen  where three-toes was making quite a mess of things. He yelled at the bear first, hoping to scare it off. He did not really want to shoot the bear. Unfortunately, three-toes was having none of it. This was now his bacon and, as far as that went, it was also now his kitchen. Mike simply had no choice. Taking careful aim with the shotgun, he fired.

While many in the Burketown area were saddened by the death of three-toes, a lot of people slept a bit more soundly at night. It is an unfortunate thing when black bears lose their fear of people. It never turns out well for the bear.

I hope this story touched you, and reminds you why it is so important to not feed the bears. While black bears can indeed be cute, they are still wild animals.

And, please take the time to check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot.