We recently encountered black bear while camping- on one occasion a large male black bear was at our campsite for a good 20 minutes. I did follow the usual advice- make lots of noise , etc. But the bear just hung around and was eating some food stolen from a nearby cooler. One of the park staff said to try and scare away a bear- but my instinct told me that coming between a animal and its food was never a good idea. The ontario governmenr has excellent information on how to handle black bears in general and what to do if you meet up with bear on your campsite.
Some of the topics covered are:
What To Do If You Encounter a Bear
Bears are normally shy of humans and quickly get out of our way when they see us. There are a number of things you can do if you spot a bear on a trail or one enters your campsite or yard.
Do not approach the bear to get a better look. Slowly back away while watching the bear and wait for it to leave.
If you are near a building or car, get inside it as a precaution. If the bear was attracted to food or garbage, make sure it is removed after the bear leaves to discourage the bear from returning.
It is important to keep dogs away from a bear. While a well-trained dog may deter a bear, a poorly trained one may only excite it resulting in the bear following the dog back to its owner.
If a bear is in a tree, leave it alone. Remove people and dogs from the area. The bear will usually come down and leave when it feels safe.
If a bear is trying to get at food in your yard or campsite (and a building or a car is not within reach) or if a bear tries to approach you, here is how you should react:
Stop. Face the bear. Do not run. If you are with others, stay together and act as a group. Make sure that the bear has a clear escape route, then yell and wave your arms to make yourself look bigger. Use a whistle or airhorn if you have one. The idea is to be aggressive and to persuade the bear to leave. This will work if the bear is still partly afraid of humans.
If these attempts fail to frighten the bear away, slowly back away watching the bear and giving it a wide berth.
Climbing a tree to get away from a bear may offer you little advantage as black bears are excellent tree climbers.
A bear may stand upright to get a better view, make huffing or “popping” sounds, swat or beat the ground with its forepaws or even bluff charge. These are a bear’s way of telling you that you are too close. Back off and give the bear more space. If the bear comes within range, use pepper spray if you have it.
How to Recognize a Potentially Dangerous Encounter
Injuries by black bears are rare, but can occur in the following situations:
Black bears may become anxious or annoyed if they are crowded by people or dogs, or if intently focused on a food source. These bears will generally give many warning signs (they may make huffing or “popping” sounds, swat or beat the ground with their forepaws or even bluff charge) to let you know that you are too close.
Mother bears protecting their young
Mother bears are rarely aggressive towards humans but they are protective of their cubs. Do not test this by intentionally approaching cubs or knowingly getting between them and their mother. The mother bear will generally give you many warning signs to let you know that you are too close.
Predatory black bears
On EXTREMELY RARE occasions, black bears (usually adult males) have attacked humans with the intent to kill and eat them. This has happened about 40 times in the last century in North America (six incidents in Ontario). By comparison, many more people have been killed by lightning, dogs, and bee stings. Predatory black bears may not make huffing or “popping” sounds, swat or beat the ground with their forepaws or perform bluff charges. Instead, they may press closer and closer to their intended prey assessing whether it is safe to attack
Here is what to do if you find yourself in one of these situations.
Slowly back away, watching the bear.
If the bear tries to approach you, stop. Be aggressive, yell, throw rocks or sticks and use pepper spray if you have it. NEVER TURN AND RUN.
If the bear continues to approach you, resume backing away slowly while continuing to be aggressive towards the bear.
If a bear makes contact with you, DO NOT PLAY DEAD. Fighting back is the best chance of persuading a black bear to stop its attack. Use a large stick, a rock or anything else that you have on hand to hurt the bear.