Bear Safety Myths
When we consider how bears act and behave, most people think they know what to expect. However, bears are incredibly strong, smart and curious creatures. Though people may think they know the basics about bear safety, here's a few myths you may not know about.
Myth #1 : "Bears have poor eyesight"
Debunked: Some people think that bears’ strong sense of smell must make up for a lack of vision. However, bears’ eyesight is at least as good as humans’. They also have excellent night vision due to a reflective membrane on the back of their eye.
Myth #2 : "Bear attacks are common"
Debunked: Some people think bear attacks happen frequently, they're actually pretty rare. According to the National Park Service, Bear attacks are rare; most bears are only interested in protecting food, cubs, or their space.
Myth #3: "If a bear is black, fight back. If a bear is brown lay down"
Debunked: Color is not a good indicator of the type of bear you're encountering and should not be used as the only characteristic to identify a black vs. grizzly bears. Not all black bears are black; black bears can be brown, cinnamon, blonde or a combination of colors. Grizzly coats also vary in color. It's best to make noise periodically and have bear spray on you when you're out. Learn more about what to do if you encounter a bear here.
Myth #4: "If a bear stands on its hind legs, it's about to charge"
Debunked: Actually, a bear standing on its hind legs is just trying to better identify what has caught its attention. Like humans, bears too think it’s much easier to see, hear and smell things from a standing position, than down on all fours.
Myth #5: "Carrying a rifle is safer than bear spray"
Debunked: A person’s chance of incurring serious injury from a charging grizzly doubles when bullets are fired versus when bear spray is used. Also, most grizzly bears are protected by the parks in Montana, so you can face serious fines/charges for killing a grizzly.
Myth #6: "Dogs decrease the chance of a bear attack"
Debunked: Through it's always fun to bring your pup on an adventure, they're not a reliable way to avoid bear encounters. Often, if they see a bear they might chase them or bark, which can provoke a defensive behavior from bears and put you in danger.
These are a few myths surrounding bears and their behavior. Remember, playing it safe in bear country is crucial! Explore the beautiful outdoors & carry bear spray!
📷: NPS Yellowstone