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What to Do if You Accidentally Encounter a Bear in Yellowstone

When you’re in Yellowstone National Park, there’s always the possibility you’ll run into a bear. Although you should do everything you can to avoid a bear encounter, such as traveling in groups, making noise, and avoiding bear-specific territory, you cannot completely eliminate the chance of coming close with one of these creatures while you are in the park. Being prepared for a bear encounter can help you if you ever come face-to-face with one while you are in the park. Below are a few guidelines for specifically handling encounters with grizzly bears and black bears, the two species of bear that can be found in Yellowstone National Park.

Take the Encounter Seriously

Fatal bear attacks are fairly rare. In the US last year, there were only two reported fatalities because of bear attacks, both of which occurred in Alaska. Bear encounters, however,  are still relatively dangerous, as both grizzly and black bears, the two species of bear found in Yellowstone, can act aggressively if they feel threatened. If you see a bear, the best course of action for you is to avoid the bear to your best ability. Walk away slowly in the direction from which you came, moving sideways if possible. Do not run away from the bear because this will encourage the bear to chase you.

Identify the Situation

Brush up on the differences between grizzly and black bears before you come to Yellowstone so you can correctly identify any bear you come across. In a bear encounter, take close note of the situation – is the bear a mother with cubs? If so, never get between the mother and the cubs. This will provoke an attack. Bears are also likely to become aggressive near food sources. It is also important to avoid giving bears food or leaving food where a bear could easily find it. If the bear knows you have food, it will do anything it can to get to it, which can increase your chance and others’ chances of being attacked.

Stay Calm

If you encounter a bear, it is a natural tendency to want to run. Bears, in fact, have this same fight or flight tendency. If you see a bear, however, it is important to remain calm so that you don’t trigger this response in a bear. Avoid running, making loud noises like screaming, or making gestures the bear may identify as a threat. Calmly walk in the opposite direction, giving the bear plenty of space if it wants to run off.  Most bear attacks are defensive in nature, so they can often be avoided by taking a calm approach. If a bear does in fact attack, you can use pepper spray or other bear sprays to ward them off.

See Bears from the Safety of your Vehicle

Yellowstone Bear World offers visitors the unique experience of seeing bears and other wild animals in their natural habitat from the comfort of their own vehicles. Contact us today to find out more about our admission price, hours of operation, and what we have to offer.

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