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Get Bear Smart!

 

Because one of ABR's mission is to educate people about bears, we wanted to set out some facts and dispel some of the myths that have arisen about black bears.

For thousands of years bears have fascinated and frightened us. We have portrayed bears as spiritual beings, fierce predators and cute teddy bears. We expect them all to behave in predictable ways even though one reason we enjoy bears so much is precisely because they are wild creatures.

Bears are individuals, however, and simply because one bears acts in a certain way does not mean every other bear will behave in the same way.

No matter how cute or tame a black bear might look, it is important to remember that all bears are wild animals whose strength warrants our respect.

FACT: Most bears prefer to avoid humans. The best way to avoid an adverse bear encounter when hiking is to let the bear know you are near -- talk, sing, make some noise, wear bear bells -- whatever it takes so that the bear will hear you coming.

FACT: Bear attacks are extremely rare. In the last 100 years, 57 people have been killed by black bears in North America. The same number of people die of bee stings in the United States every year.

FACT: Bears can run very well both up and down hills. Bears can reach speeds of 56 kilometers (34 miles) per hour for short distances.

FACT: A bear's eyesight is similar to ours. Bear can also see some color.

FACT: A bear's most acute sense is the sense of smell. A bear can smell an apple from a kilometer away. The smell of food on a person or their clothing is a possible reason for a bear to 'attack' a human.

You can find additional information about bear behavior at the following links:

(1) Great Smoky Mountains National Park

(2) The Canadian-based Get Bear Smart Society