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Backpacker Magazine – December 2004

Survive This: Caught between a Mama Bear and Her Cub

Here's how to get out of the middle when motherly instincts kick in.

by: The Backpacker Editors


Female bears aggressively defend their offspring against any perceived danger. To escape an encounter unscathed, you must avoid appearing like a threat.


Speak firmly and authoritatively as you slowly back away. Stand tall and stay in a group if you're with friends, but don't look the bear in the eye or make sudden gestures. Don't run or throw rocks. If she charges, stand your ground; most charges are bluffs that end with her turning abruptly at the last moment. If she attacks, fight back (play dead if she's a grizzly). If your friend is attacked, make noise to try to scare away the bear. Join the fight against a black bear with sticks and rocks (aim for the head and nose) only if there are three or more of you to help. Otherwise, pull back at least 100 yards to a safe position. When the bear leaves, administer first aid.

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Star Star Star
Jun 19, 2013

Carry a 10mm pistol or a .410 shotgun along with bear bells and a good bear spray (30 ft. +) and you'll be fine.

Not A Meal!
Jun 16, 2013

This is one reason I carry a gun into the woods. If all else fails and a bear charges me he becomes a rug! I will not be a victim and neither should you!

Aug 31, 2012

I've encountered blackbears. But if I would ever encounter a grizz' I'd hope the release from my bladder and bowels would deter him{or her}!!!

Steve C
Aug 31, 2012

Frankie, if you are the one mauled, while we are waiting for the helicopter you told me to call, would you like me to stop the bleeding? ;)

Dec 29, 2010

Having been raised on a cattle ranch, I have observed animal behavior for as long as I can remember. I have chased by many a cow protecting her calf. I have been upended a few times by an unsociable animal. I have even had a bull pick up me and the horse I was riding when he didn't like us in "his space". I have observed both grizzlies and black bears in the wild, and their behavior is very predictable. For safety around any animal, there is safety in numbers. That being said, why do you and all the other so called "experts" advise people to gather together? In the case of the sow protecting her cub, if you split apart, she will not charge you as it leaves her cub(s) unprotected from the others. If one person turns and starts to leave, she will charge the other. The point is, split apart and back away as fast as you can without tripping and falling. You are not a primary food source,so the sow's only intent is to chase you away from the cub. As for a male, their problem with you is territorial and they just want you out of their area. Don't argue with him as he will win and he knows that. Again, safety in numbers. Split apart and leave as fast as you can. That is why he bluff charges. He is telling you to get the hell out of his space. If he is vastly outnumbered, he will just leave. The other thing to know is learning how to understand the mood of the male at that very moment. Some times he will be tranquil and other times he may be a real bear (ever wonder where that saying came from?) Awareness is the best prevention. Be away of your surroundings. If you see bear sign, or are walking through a berry patch, you had better be vigilant and prepared for an encounter. If you were raised in the city, it is a new experience for you. If you are familiar with this environment, it is no big deal. If I were to go to a big city, I would be scared to venture off alone (probably more so than you in Griz country) as there are gangsters with guns that will rob or shoot you. I have complete trust that a bear won't take my money; food, yes, money, no.

May 25, 2009

Never having encountered any kind of bear I think I would live by the philosophy of "I know I can't out run a bear so all I have to do is out run you". But seriously what would be the best advice to survive a bear mauling if not administer first aid? Also would this article be more for the psychological value of "Don't Panic" because like anything in life don't these wild animals understand fear and panic as a weakness and already assume they have won the battle?

Apr 11, 2009

administer first aid? this article is bull. you have obviously never seen a bear mauling before. you better call a helicopter cuz that person who used this advice then got his ass handed to him wont be walking anytime soon

Apr 11, 2009

this article kinda sux


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