When Faced With a Bear

Advice for encountering wildlife in the wilderness.

The New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife offers these common-sense safety tips for encounters  with black bears  in the wild:

  • Never feed or approach a bear.
  • Remain calm if you encounter a bear. Do not run from it. Instead, slowly back away.
  • Make the bear aware of your presence by speaking in an assertive voice, singing, clapping your hands, or making other noises.
  • Make sure the bear has an escape route.
  • Avoid direct eye contact, which may be perceived by a bear as a challenge.
  • To scare the bear away, make loud noises by yelling, banging pots and pans or using an air horn. Make yourself look as big as possible by waving your arms. If you are with someone else, stand close together with your arms raised above your head.
  • The bear may utter a series of huffs, make popping jaw sounds by snapping its jaws and swat the ground. These are warning signs that you are too close.
  • If a bear stands on its hind legs or moves closer, it may be trying to get a better view or detect scents in the air. It is usually not a threatening behavior.
  • Never come between a bear and her cubs.
  • Black bears will sometimes “bluff charge” when cornered, threatened or attempting to steal food. Stand your ground, avoid direct eye contact, then slowly back away and do not run.
  • If the bear does not leave, move to a secure area.
  • Report black bear damage or nuisance behavior to the DEP’s 24-hour, toll-free hotline at 877-WARN DEP (877-927-6337).
Click here to leave a comment
Read more Jersey Living, Outdoors articles.

By submitting comments you grant permission for all or part of those comments to appear in the print edition of New Jersey Monthly.