There are many preconceived notions about bears. Some avoid them because they are presumed to be hungry vicious killers while others get way too close assuming they are tame and cuddly. In both cases the misconceptions have negatively impacted our relationships with the brilliant species. It isn't fair to them or us and the reality is that we can co-exist peacefully. Thus, in order to gain a better understanding about the lives and behavior of bears, we must challenge the myths by seeking greater knowledge. And GetBearSmartSociety.com is helping us do that by dispelling fifteen common myths about bears. We have included ten below and their site link!
Myth #1: Bears are unpredictable
Fact: Bears use body language and vocalizations to show their intentions. Learning about bear behavior can be beneficial to people who live or recreate in bear country.
Myth #2: 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 along a slope. To put that in perspective, that's 15 m/sec or 50 ft/sec - more than twice as fast as we can run. In fact, a bear can outrun a racehorse over short distances but has little endurance.
Myth #3: A bear standing on its hind legs is about to charge
Fact: Actually, a bear standing on its hind legs is just trying to better identify what has caught its attention. As I'm sure you'll agree, it's much easier to see, hear and smell thing from a standing position, than down on all fours.
Myth #4: Once a bear has tasted human food, it won't eat wild food any more
Fact: Bears prefer natural, 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; such as bird feed, pet food, fruit trees/berry bushes, barbecue grease and compost. Click here to learn more about how to become BearSmart.
Myth #5: Bear bells are the best way to avoid a surprise encounter
Fact: It's best to alert bears of your presence by talking loudly, singing songs or breaking sticks. Try to hike in a group, on established trails, during daylight hours. See our Bear Smart in the Backcountry section for more information.
Myth #6: If a bear charges you, climb a tree. Fact: Despite all their timidness on the ground, black bears seem to feel more courageous in trees. Bears sometimes kill each other by throwing their opponents out of trees. The bear below has the advantage because the bear above cannot easily hang on and face downward to fight back. Also the lower bear seems confident of these advantages and some bears have even come up trees after people who thought climbing was prudent. Grizzlies, too, can climb-perhaps not as quickly, but they have been known to attack people who climbed trees to escape. See our Bear Smart in the Backcountry section for more information. Myth #7: Bears are carnivores. Fact: Although classified in the order carnivora, grizzly and black bears are omnivores because they eat both plants and animals. Only a small percentage of their diets consist of meat, which includes fish, insects and other mammals (the exact percentage is dependant on the type of food is available in their habitat). Myth #8: Bears have poor eyesight Fact: Bears see in colour and have good vision similar to humans. Their night vision is excellent and they are particularly attuned to detecting movement. Like many animals, bears' eyes have a reflective layer called the tapetum lucidum lining the back of the eyeball. This layer reflects light back through the retina, allowing light to stimulate light-sensitive cells in the retina a second time, thereby improving night vision. This is what gives dogs, cats and many nocturnal animals that distinct, bright green eyeshine when they are flashed with a light at night. Myth #9: 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 private property. Bears may travel hundreds of kilometres 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 #10: Shooting or relocating a 'nuisance' bear will solve the problem Fact: Removing the bear and not the attractant will only create an opportunity for another bear to move in, creating a vicious cycle of conflict and killing.