The following tips are just recommendations and i would not encourage people to go out and find a California grizzly to practice these skills with! However IF you should encounter a bear the most important thing is to always keep calm and let the bear understand that you are not picking a fight.Credit: Image courtesy of Feelart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
1. Never ever run.
A human has no chance what so ever of out running a bear. Bears are known for speeds up to 50 km/hr (30 m.p.h.), thats even faster than Usain Bolt. Despite rumors to the contrary, black and grizzly bears can outrun a human on any terrain, uphill or down. If you start running you will only invite the bear to a race you can´t win.
2. If the bear has NOT detected you…
If you see a bear from a long distance and the bear is unaware of your presence do not disturb it. Instead try to retire as fast and quiet, giving the bear as much room as possible. When on a safe distance you could make ample noise to make the bear aware of you and prevent any possible future encounters.
3. If the bear has detected you…
If the bear is aware of you but have not attacked, begin speaking in a deep, calm voice to identify yourself and then start to retreat slowly, keeping an eye on the bear but avoiding direct eye contact. You want the bear to understand that you are human and let it know that you are non-threatening, and that you are leaving its territory. A bear that stands on his back-legs often just tries to identify you and is not threatening.
4. If the bear is walking towards you.
If the bear continues to approach as you move back, stop and stand your ground. Do not drop your backpack, it could protect your body if you should be attacked. If you drop your backpack the bear could get even more interested and start to look for food. It is good to know that bears sometimes do fake-attacks, approaching you as close as 3m before suddenly stopping or turning around to run away in a different direction. Stand completely still until the bear has stopped or turned away, then slowly back away. To climb a tree will not protect you against brown bears and probably not agains grizzlies either.
5. If the bear touches you.
If a grizzly- or brown bear attacks you: Play dead. To play dead, lie flat on the ground protecting your vital parts with the ground, and your arms protecting your neck with your hands laced behind the neck. Keep your legs together and do not struggle. If the attack continues you should change tactics and try to hit back with everything you got. Hit the bear with rocks, sticks or fists. If it is a black bear: don´t ever try to play dead - fight back right from the start.
Ok, you are now ready to hike into the wild. I hope you will never ever have to use any of these tips, and if you do: Say hi to the California grizzly from me!