What To Do If You See A Brown Bear While Hiking?

brown bear while hiking

Have you ever been hiking in the woods and come across a brown bear? What do you do? Knowing how to react in these situations can mean the difference between life and death. In this article, we’ll give you some tips on what to do if you see a brown bear while hiking so that you can be prepared should this situation arise.

What Are Brown Bears?

Brown bears are large, predatory animals that are found in North America, Europe, and Asia. You may also know them as grizzly bears, but for the rest of the article, I’ll stick with “brown bear” to keep things consistent. They typically weigh between 200 and 1,300 pounds and can grow to be up to 8 feet long. Brown bears are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plants and animals. However, their diet consists mostly of plants during the spring and summer months, and mostly meat during the fall and winter months.

What Makes Brown Bears Dangerous?

While brown bears are not typically aggressive towards humans, they can be dangerous if they feel threatened. If a brown bear feels that its cubs are in danger, it will attack. Brown bears will also attack if they feel like they are being cornered or if they are protecting their food.

Secondly, the scary part about brown bears is that they are just truly unpredictable. So even if a brown bear has never shown aggression towards humans before, there is always the potential that it could happen. This makes them unique among the different wildlife you’ll see while hiking.

Lastly, when you look at a brown bear’s physical characteristics, they are just built to be intimidating and dangerous. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • They are strong apex predators with large claws and sharp teeth.
  • They also have excellent eyesight and hearing, which means they can spot and track their prey from far away.
  • They are faster than any human, by far.
  • have a bit force of over 1,200 pounds per square inch.

Where are Brown Bears Typically Found?

Brown bears are found in North America, Europe, and Asia. In North America, they are typically found in the western United States, Alaska, and Canada.

When it comes to the type of region, or terrain, that brown bears typically inhabit, they are found in a variety of places. This includes forests, mountains, and even areas near human settlements.

In the United States, the brown bear population is 55,000, which is far less than the black bear population of nearly 750,000.

So chances are, you’re much more likely to see a black bear while hiking in the woods than a brown bear. However, it’s still important to know what to do if you see a brown bear so that you can be prepared.

How Do You Spot A Brown Bear On The Hiking Trail?

So even though there is a much smaller chance to see a brown bear than a black bear, it can still happen. If you’re hiking in brown bear territory, here are a few things to look out for:

  • Berries: Brown bears love to eat berries, so if you see a spot on the trail where there are a lot of berries, there’s a chance a brown bear has been there.
  • Tracks: Another way to tell if a brown bear has been in the area is by looking for tracks. Brown bears have large, five-toed footprints that are easy to spot.
  • Scat: Another sign of a brown bear’s presence is scat, or bear droppings. Bear scat typically contains berries, leaves, and other plant matter.

What To Do If You See A Brown Bear While Hiking

If you see a brown bear on the hiking trail, the first thing you should do is stay calm. It’s important not to run or make any sudden movements, as this could trigger the bear’s predatory instincts.

Unlike brown bears, you DO NOT want to start making loud noises and waving your arms like those floats at the car dealership. Instead, slowly back away from the bear while talking in a calm, assertive voice – the goal is to let the bear know you’re human and not prey.

Lastly, wait until the bear is completely out of sight before continuing on your hike. Do not get some room and then decide to run. You will NOT outrun a brown bear.

Do Brown Bears Attack Humans?

While brown bears are not typically aggressive towards humans, they can be dangerous if they feel threatened – or simply whenever they feel like it. If a brown bear feels that its cubs are in danger, it will attack. Brown bears will also attack if they feel like they are being cornered or if they are protecting their food.

Secondly, as I mentioned before, the scary part about brown bears is that they are just truly unpredictable. So even if a brown bear has never shown aggression towards humans before, there is always the potential that it could happen.

Compared to black bears, brown bears kill on average, roughly 11 humans per year (in North America alone). Keep in mind the brown bear population in North America is only 55,000. With black bears, that number is 1 human killed per year with a population of 750,000 black bears. You can do the math on that one.

What Should You Do If A Brown Bear Charges At You?

If a brown bear charges at you, your best bet is to try and deter the attack by using bear spray. Bear spray is basically pepper spray on steroids, and it’s been proven to be effective in deterring bear attacks.

If you don’t have bear spray or if the bear spray doesn’t work, your next option is to play dead. This might sound counter-intuitive, but if you lie down on your stomach and cover your neck and head with your hands, the bear will see you as being submissive and hopefully back off.

But what happens if the brown bear just won’t let up? Then it’s time to fight back with everything you’ve got. Fighting back might not sound like a great option, but it’s better than doing nothing. Use anything you can as a weapon – rocks, sticks, fists, etc. – and aim for the bear’s face and eyes.

The goal is to make the bear feel threatened so that it will back off. Remember, brown bears are predators, so they’re not used to being on the receiving end of an attack.

Conclusion

As long as you remember a few key things, you can enjoy your hike and keep yourself safe from brown bears. If you see a bear while hiking, stay calm, don’t run, and back away slowly. Make sure to give the bear plenty of space. And finally, always carry bear spray with you in case of an encounter.

I know they seem big, bad, and scary – and they are! But you don’t need to stress too much about brown bears. Just use your common sense and be aware of your surroundings while hiking, and you’ll be fine.

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