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Course Outline

If you find yourself being charged by what appears to be an aggressive bear, your options are: 

  • Standing Your Ground: Never run away! Running may trigger an instinctive reaction to chase you. If the bear charges, stand your ground.
  • Playing Dead: Playing dead should only be used if you are sure the bear will make contact. In this instance, drop to the ground, and lie flat on your belly, interlocking your fingers to cover your neck and head. Be sure to stay in this position until you are sure the bear is gone. Try not to let the bear roll you over; if you are rolled over, keep rolling until you are on your stomach again.
  • Climbing a Tree: Climbing a tree may be an effective option if you can get at least 20 feet up the tree before the bear reaches the tree.
    • It is a generally accepted fact that black bears are very good tree climbers and will often take that route when alarmed. For this reason, climbing a tree may not be a good option in a black bear encounter.
    • Grizzly bears, on the other hand, are often good tree climbers when they are young, but usually do not climb as adults because of their large size and long claws. Adult grizzlies can climb trees with evenly spaced limbs. If you plan to climb a tree to escape from a grizzly, make sure the tree is stout, and you can get up at least 20 feet from the ground.
  • Using a Bear Deterrent: Using a bear deterrent, such as bear spray, maybe the most effective option. Bear spray must be carried on your body in a place where it is immediately accessible, and it must be sprayed directly into the bear's face. Once the bear's attention is directed away from you, leave the area immediately.
  • Using a Firearm: Firearms have been used effectively in aggressive encounters but are only recommended if no other options exist. Wounding a bear may increase the seriousness of the situation. If you shoot a bear in self-defense, you must notify the WGFD immediately.
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