What should you do if a Bear Attacks?

Bear attacks in the Rocky Mountains are fortunately rare, but it is important to know what you should do if a bear attacks you.

grizzly bear attacks

A grizzly bear may look cute, but keep your distance!

Just realize, that there are only about three deaths from bear attacks every year.  That is much less that the number of people killed in other ways – such as 49 per year from lightning and just over 30,000 per year from car accidents.  There are certain things that you can do to keep safe in bear country.

If you see a bear that appears to be getting ready to attack you it is important to keep calm and a clear head.  In order to know the best way to react you must first figure out one thing: 1) what kind of bear is attacking you?

What kind of bear is it?

Black Bear or Grizzly Bear?  Here is a post about identifying a black or grizzly bear, but the basics are that a grizzly bear has a hump on its shoulders and its face is concave.  In general a grizzly bear is bigger.  Color can be misleading as there can be brown colored black bears.

It is crucial to know that when I am talking about a bear attacking you I mean a bear that has actually made contact with you.  If a bear has not yet touched you, even if it is approaching you or has made a bluff charge at you, then do not follow what it says below here.  Only follow the below if a bear has touched you.

If a black bear attacks fight back

When a black bear attacks you, you should fight back with all you can.  Grab ahold of anything you can to help you fight such as a stick, rock, hiking pole…  It is possible to fight off a black bear and has happened before by determined people.

grizzly bear attacks

A Grizzly bear attack can cause damage with its powerful arms and big claws.

If a Grizzly Bear attacks play dead.

If it is a grizzly bear attacking you the best thing you can do is let the bear know that you are not a threat and protect yourself by playing dead.  Once the bear actually makes contact with you, this could be hitting you or knocking into you, you should fall or lie face down on the ground with your stomach to the ground.

The ground will protect your inner organs.  Lock your fingers together and put your hands on the back of your neck to protect it.  If the bear rolls you over, attempt to get back on your stomach.

If you are wearing a backpack, keep it on as it will help to protect you.

Hopefully, the bear will see that you are not a threat and will leave.  If rather than play dead, you decide to fight a grizzly bear you will cause the grizzly bear to see you as a threat and it could cause the bear to attack you even more aggressively.

In the rare case that the bear does not leave, but keeps hitting you, it is time for you to fight back because the bear means to kill or eat you.  Try hitting or striking the bears face with anything you can.  Hopefully, you can scare it off and get it to stop  attacking.


2 thoughts on “What should you do if a Bear Attacks?

  1. My wife and I survived a grizzly bear attack in Glacier NP. A sow and cub were being chased by 3 hikers and they chased her right into us. It is amazing to watch a grizzly run full out, especially when it is heading right for you. It all happened so fast that all you can do is survive. Survive we did. It took 450 stitches to close me up and my wife was scalped among other injuries. It took me 3 years to talk her into going back into grizzly country again. They are magnificent creatures.

    • Wow! That is incredible. I have seen a grizzly running full out only once and that was far away from me. I can’t imagine what you went through. Glad to hear you survived the attack and are still exploring grizzly country.

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