The thought experiment: How can I survive a bear attack?

You're going to have to grin and bear it if you want to get out of this one alive...

22nd September 2016
The thought experiment: How can I survive a bear attack? © Chris Philpot/BBC Focus

1. DON’T RUN

The thought experiment: How can I survive a bear attack? © Chris Philpot/BBC Focus
© Chris Philpot/BBC Focus

Black, brown and polar bears can all outrun you, and fleeing will trigger the bear’s predatory instincts that make an attack more likely. Climbing a tree might help against a brown bear, but black bears are excellent climbers. Standing your ground or backing away slowly are better tactics, even if the bear is charging.

2. DON’T SHOOT

The thought experiment: How can I survive a bear attack? © Chris Philpot/BBC Focus
© Chris Philpot/BBC Focus

A bullet won’t kill a charging bear before it reaches you. Pepper spray is more effective. The idea is to spray a wall of mist between you and the bear, while the bear is still 10 to 15m away. This doesn’t require accurate aim and will often deter the bear instead of just enraging it.

3. DON’T PANIC

The thought experiment: How can I survive a bear attack? © Chris Philpot/BBC Focus
© Chris Philpot/BBC Focus

Black bears can sometimes be fought off, especially if you hit their nose or eyes. With brown bears the best tactic is to play dead. Keep your rucksack on, interlock your fingers around the back of your neck and curl up tight on the floor. Stay there for at least half an hour. The bear will often wait to see if you are really dead.

 


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