What to Do if You Meet a Bear

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A black bear spotted crossing Blue Ridge Avenue near downtown Crozet mid-day in July. (Photo: Margaret Marshall)
A black bear spotted crossing Blue Ridge Avenue near downtown Crozet mid-day in July. (Photo: Margaret Marshall)

By nature Black bears tend to be wary of people, but they are increasing seen around Crozet. Shenandoah National Park recently issued the following advice about encountering a bear.

Never feed or approach a bear.

Remain calm.

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 and never run from a bear. Instead, slowly back away.

If a black bear stands on its hind legs or moves closer, it may be curious and trying to get a better view or detect scents in the air. It is usually not a threatening behavior.

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. Slowly back away, avoid direct eye contact and do not run.

Black bears will sometimes “bluff charge” when cornered, threatened or attempting to defend a food source. Stand your ground, avoid direct eye contact, then slowly back away and do not run.

If you’re camping, never store food or scented items (such as tooth paste) in your tent.

To scare a bear away, make loud noises by yelling or banging pots and pans. 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.

If the bear does not leave, move at least 200 yards away.

Black bear attacks are extremely rare. If a black bear does attack, always fight back! Hit the bear’s eyes or nose.

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