Bear Encounters

bear encounters

Locals know better than to leave out the birdseed, the suet, and the hummingbird juice…our Local Bears’ favorite feast on the deck. It’s always a thrill when the neighborhood bear stops in for a snack, but this is a terrible habit one does not want to allow to form.

Food-conditioned bears can become quite a powerful pest. Not only can they rip into trash cans, but into vehicles and garages too. So do not invite them! Advice from wildlife experts say to make the home encounter as uncomfortable for the bear as possible without doing it harm so it will not want to come back.

Out on the trail:

If you encounter a bear, you want to be on the trail or in the forest with someone whom you can outrun. That’s the joke anyway, but Colorado’s Black bears are typically not aggressive and don’t want to eat you for lunch. More likely, they are interested in what you have in the tent, the cooler, the truck bed, or in the cup-holder of your kid’s car seat. The most dangerous predicament you may find yourself in is surprising a bear on the trail or getting between the cubs and the mama bear. Understanding bear behavior and taking precautions will help you avoid such a predicament.
Black bears are highly intelligent, with individual responses to people and situations. They will usually smell or hear you and leave the area long before you see them. They are not naturally aggressive and seldom attack, unless they feel threatened, cornered, or are provoked.

Black bears are very wary of people. Their normal response to any perceived danger is to run away or climb a tree. Bears are not naturally nocturnal, but sometimes travel at night I hopes of avoiding humans.

Bear Tips for Woodland Park, CO

  • Be alert at all times, and leave your headphones at home.
  • Be extra cautious at dawn and dusk, when the wind is in your face, or visibility is limited.
  • Keep children between adults, and teach them what to do if they see a wild animal. Don’t let them run ahead or fall behind.
  • Never leave any trash behind. Finding treats teaches wildlife to associate trails with food.
  • Never approach or offer food to bears, or other wildlife. If you’re lucky enough to see an animal, watch from a safe distance and enjoy this very special experience If your presence causes the animal to look up or change its behavior in any way, you are too close.

If you surprise a bear on a trail, stand still, stay calm and let the bear identify you and leave. Talk in a normal tone of voice. Be sure the bear has an escape route. Never run or climb a tree, the bear will outrun you and outclimb you.
If you see cubs, the mother is usually close by. Leave the area immediately.

If the bear doesn’t leave:

A bear standing up is just trying to identify what you are by getting a better look and smell. Wave your arms slowly overhead and talk calmly. Step off the trail to the downhill side, keep looking at the bear and slowly back away until the bear is out of sight

If the bear approaches:

A bear knowingly approaching a person could be a food-conditioned bear looking for a handout or, very rarely, an aggressive bear. Stand your ground. Yell or throw small rocks in the direction of the bear. If you are attacked, don’t play dead. Fight back with anything available. People have successfully defended themselves with pen knives, trekking poles, and even bare hands.


  1. Terri Benz says

    So I guess when I came face to face with a black bear recently in Juneau, AK screaming and running like the girl I am was wrong? Lol!! Great article!

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