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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Ask A Bear: Run Away From A Bear?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

by: BEAR


 
 Q: It is true that as long as I'm not the slowest runner in the group I'll escape your attack unscathed?—Ron B., via email

A: I feel bad for your friends, Ron—do they know you'd ditch them in a second just to escape little ol' me? 

They might take some small comfort from the fact that your superior sprinting abilities might not do anything to keep me away. I may look fat and fuzzy, and my famous lumbering gait might seem slow, but I can almost always run faster than you if I want to. Running from me at full clip is generally a bad idea: If I'm not on the attack already, it might trigger a response.

Also, just 'cause you're faster doesn't mean I'll let you go. If I perceive both you and your unlucky friend as threats, I could very well attack both of you, and it's well within my power to run both of you down. 

Don't believe me? My fastest reported speeds are around 40 mph; the current fastest human on Earth, Usain Bolt, runs a comparatively pokey 27 mph. 

But hey—I'm not a big fan of running you down and chomping on you. Just alert me to your presence with loud noises, and I'll probably amble away before you even see me.

—BEAR

Got a question for the bear? Send it to askabear@backpacker.com.


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READERS COMMENTS

squirrelmasta
Feb 10, 2012

After my encounter with a female Griz and (2) 2 year old cubs at glacier where myself, my girlfriend and about 10 others ended up 10' from a griz I would not run. The faster you run the more likely you are to get the bear to run past your friend after you as bears can get fixated. Check out the photo's of the griz and buffalo in yellow stone where the guy taking photos stood in place and the buffalo and bear ran past him.

Larry
Feb 09, 2012

I would trip my girlfriend and then make a run for it...would that be wrong?

Jerry W Doyle
Feb 09, 2012

My question to Ron B is why would you want to run off leaving behind your friends to deal with a bear encounter or to defend a bear attack? "Safety" in either a bear encounter or bear attack is in " numbers." The more of you and your friends gathering together making noises, and gathering in a group to present a formidable opposition to a bear threat is more of a likelihood of a successful defensive tactic than you abandoning your fellow hikers to speed off to save yourself. Besides, as bear noted, he most likely would skirt around your group of friends and chase down the one not so formidable threat to him, "you," running down the path "alone." Then, how would you feel if your friends abandoned you in "your" need for help while being mauled?

No, Ron; don't run off and leave your friends when they truly need "you" on the trail. Otherwise, if you behave this way then you may never find friends in the future to hike with you.

Jerry W Doyle

Conor
Jul 23, 2011

I chased after a bear last week, it started running from me, got some good pictures though.

Jay
Jul 23, 2011

Sounds like a nice guy. Similar thinking to my ex, now deceased, dive partner who thought it was called a "buddy knife" because if you saw a shark, you cut your buddy on the arm and swam like hell.

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