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Living the north-east part of America, my chances of encountering a grizzly bear is very low. I have greater chances of meeting a black bear. If I got the chance of meeting a grizzly, should I change what I learnt to be safe and sound?

I gave the example of a grizzly bear but my question is not focused on that particular species.

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Um... Run faster? – MaskedPlant Dec 3 '12 at 21:45
When you climb up a tree to get away, a black bear will climb up after you whereas a grizzly will wrap its forelegs around the trunk and pull it up by its roots. – Olin Lathrop Dec 3 '12 at 22:35
@OlinLathrop: I don't know if that was meant to be sarcastic, but any tree strong enough for you to climb in is going to be far too strong to be pulled out by any bear. Plus grizzly's can climb well enough to come after you in the tree if they want. – whatsisname Dec 4 '12 at 0:01
How can you tell black bear scat from grizzly bear scat? Grizzly bear scat has bear bells in it. – Kate Gregory Dec 4 '12 at 12:43
@Kate I was sorely tempted to post that full joke as an answer. – Mr.Wizard Dec 5 '12 at 10:05
up vote 5 down vote accepted

From's US Parks safety info:

If a Grizzly Bear Attacks…

  • Play dead! Lie face down on the ground with your hands around the back of your neck.
  • Stay silent and try not to move. Keep your legs spread apart and if you can, leave your pack on to protect your back.
  • Once the bear backs off, stay quiet and still for as long as you can.
  • Bears will often watch from a distance and come back if they see movement.

If a Black Bear Attacks…

  • Be loud, waive your arms, and stand your ground.
  • Fight back! Be aggressive and use any object you have.
  • Only if you are sure the bear attacking is a mother who is protecting its cubs, play dead.
  • If you have pepper spray, use it. Begin spraying when it's within 40 ft so it runs into the fog. Aim for the face.

It's worth noting that Parks Canada has stopped providing bear specific protocols for handling black/grizzly encounters except providing distinguishing characteristics so that you can accurate report which type of bear encounter you had.

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A note on the "Play dead" advice. It is by no means at all universal. If you play dead with a particularly hungry grizzly, it will eat you. I'll see if I can find the link on it. The reason the parks quit providing protocols is that the right way to act is entirely dependent on why the bear is checking you out... something a layman won't be able to determine. – Russell Steen Dec 5 '12 at 14:05
I complete agree with Russell, play dead until it bites, then fight back. Also, bring bear spray when travelling in the woods. – furtive Dec 7 '12 at 20:04

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