Bear Safety Tips

Bear Encounters

Black Bear Attacks Are Very Uncommon

Black bears rarely become aggressive when encountered. However, it’s best to avoid bears by following these simple steps, and to know what to do if an encounter happens.

“Know what to do when you see a bear. NEVER run from a bear. Don’t approach a bear – just quietly move away and leave the area.

 

However, if a bear does approach you, make yourself look big, make loud noises, clap your hands, and continue to back away.”

Jaime Sajecki, Black Bear Project Leader
Virginia Department of Game and Inland. Fisheries

If you encounter a bear…

in the wood icon

…In the woods

  • Do not approach the bear.
  • Quietly move away and leave the area.

…In a building, by a dumpster, or around the corner

  • Give the bear a clear escape route (do not corner it).
  • Leave any doors open as you back away from the bear.
  • Do not lock the bear in a room.

…In your backyard

  • From a safe distance, make loud noises, shout, or bang pots and pans together to scare away the bear.
  • When the bear leaves, remove potential attractants such as garbage, bird seed, or pet food.
  • Ask neighbors to remove attractants.
  • Check your yard for bears before letting out your dog.
bear on bird feeder post
Chasing a bear out of your backyard includes removing whatever attracted the bear in the first place. (Photo: Madison Rapp)

Take Special Precautions to Avoid Bears

when hiking, walking with your dog, camping or fishing in bear country

If a black bear becomes aggressive and…

…Approaches you

  • Stand your ground.
  • Back away only when the bear stops its approach.
  • Make yourself look bigger by raising your arms and jacket, and/or standing on a rock or stump.
  • Yell “Hey bear” loudly.
  • Get your bear spray out of the holster and into your hand. Remove the safety latch.

…Follows You

  • Stand your ground.
  • Try to appear large by holding up your arms and jacket, and/or standing on a rock or stump.
  • Back away only when the bear stops its approach.
  • Intimidate the black bear by making yourself look bigger and making noise (wave arms, shout, clap, bang stick).
  • Stay together.

…Continues to Follow You

  • Stand your ground and stay together.
  • Intimidate the black bear by making yourself look bigger and making noise (wave arms, shout, clap, bang stick).
  • Prepare to fight or use bear spray.
bear too close in the woods
bear charges you (icon)

…Charges You

  • Stand your ground.
  • Remain calm.
  • If you have bear spray, spray it directly at the bear.

…Makes Contact With You

  • FIGHT BACK with anything at hand (knife, sticks, rocks, binoculars, backpack or by kicking).
  • DO NOT play dead.