Bear Myths
"The wilderness is not a renewable resource. If it is possible for humans and wildlife to coexist, we must endeavor to understand as much as possible about their needs to minimize negative impacts." -Craig McClure
Myth: A bear standing on its hind legs is about to charge.
Fact: Actually, when a bear stands on its hind legs, it is simply trying to see and smell whatever peaked its curiosity.
Myth: Bears can't run down hill.
Fact: Bears can run more than 60 kilometers an hour, and they can do it up hills, down hills or sideways. That's more than twice as fast as we can run. In fact, a bear can outrun a race horse over short distances, but has little endurance.
Myth: Bears are unpredictable.
Fact: Bears use body language and vocalizations to show their intentions. Learning about bear behaviour can be beneficial to people who travel in bear country.
Myth: Once a bear has tried human food, it won't eat wild food any more.
Fact: Bears naturally prefer wild food unless it is difficult to find and human food is too easy to get. Even the worst food conditioned bears still eat natural foods whenever they're plentiful. Conflicts usually increase when natural foods run out - a good time to be more vigilant of bear attractants on your property.
Myth: If a bear charges you, play dead or climb a tree.
Fact: Black bears are excellent climbers. Their agility and sharp claws allow them to quickly climb trees to escape danger. Grizzlies, although they are physically capable of climbing trees, don't usually bother unless they are sufficiently aggravated. Playing dead may work, if you're attacked by a bear who has identified you as a threat ie. a mother grizzly bear defending her young.
Myth: Bear bells are the best way to avoid a surprise encounter.
Fact: It's best to alert bears of your human presence by talking loudly, singing songs or breaking sticks. Try to hike in a group, on established trails, during daylight hours.
Myth: Bears have poor eyesight.
Fact: Bears see in color and have good vision similar to humans.
Myth: Bears are dangerous predators.
Fact: Although classified in the order carnivore, grizzly and black bears are omnivores, meaning that they eat both plants and animals. Only 10 to 15% of their diets consist of meat, which includes fish, insects and other mammals. The majority of extremely rare predatory attacks are by male black bears in remote areas.
Myth: Shooting or relocating a 'nuisance' bear will solve the problem.
Fact: Removing a 'problem' bear and not the attractant will only create a newly available habitat niche so another bear can move right back in, creating a vicious cycle of killing.
Myth: Carrying a rifle is safer than bear pepper spray.
Fact: A person's chance of incurring serious injury from a charging bear doubles when bullets are fired versus when bear pepper spray is used (Dr. Stephen Herrero). Those injured defending themselves with bear pepper spray vs. firearms experienced shorter duration attacks and less severe injuries (US Fish and Wildlife Service).
Myth: One of the most dangerous encounters is getting between a mother black bear and her cubs.
Fact: Because black bears can tree their cubs, it is rare for them to injure a person in that situation. Chances are, she may just bluff charge and stop short of an attack. Do whatever you can to show her that you are not a threat.  Be quiet, make yourself smaller and retreat slowly.
Myth: It is dangerous to go into bear country when menstruating.
Fact: Current evidence suggests that menstruation does not increase the likelihood of an attack by a black or grizzly bear, but tampons are recommended over pads. They may be disposed of by burning and then packing out the remains.
Myth: Bears that wander into inhabited areas such as campsites, rural towns, or cottage communities are dangerous.
Fact: It is nearly impossible for a bear to make its daily excursions without walking through someone's property. Bears may travel hundreds of miles in their search for food. If you have stored your food and garbage properly, the bear will likely move on. Remember, problem bears aren't born they're made. If bears are hanging around, something is attracting them. Removing the attraction will usually solve the problem.
Myth: People traveling in bear country are often attacked.
Fact: Bear attacks are extremely rare. Although there are thousands of human-bear encounters every year, only a very few result in personal injury. Most bears will actually retreat before you are even aware of their presence. It is still important, however, to stay alert and know the Bear Safe facts.