Will opening and closing an umbrella scare a bear away?
Submitted by - M.H., New Bedford, MA
I just got back from Alaska, or I would have responded sooner. I don't know of any data to suggest that opening and closing an umbrella will scare a bear away. It might work on a timid bear, or one that's not food-conditioned, simply by confusing or intimidating them. But there are no expert testimony or studies from the field that it works.
Frankly, most every noisy or firm stance will intimidate most bears. The vast majority of bears, blacks or grizzlies, will run as soon as they identify you as a human. If I happened to be holding an umbrella when confronted by a bear, I might think to opening it to make myself look bigger as an additional way to scare the bruin away. In any event, I doubt it would entice the bear to attack.
But every bear is different. The best "bear defense" tactic is to keep a clean camp and travel noisily. If a black bear moves into your camp, holler, make noise, throw rocks from a safe distance away. Keep chasing it away every time it reappears (if it does return, it’s probably already accustomed to human food). Same with grizzly bears, although you have to maintain a bigger safety margin due to their more aggressive reactions when threatened.