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ARE BLACK BEARS LIKE DOGS?

Are black bears like dogs?  No.

 

In a forest at night, it’s easy to imagine bears as oversized attack dogs like we see them drawn in hunting magazines.      

 

Fortunately, that image is nowhere close to reality. 

 

Black bears are not like dogs that come after people in their owners’ yards.  Black bears are not territorial toward people.    They do not defend their territories against hikers or people who build homes in the woods. 

Black bears can be territorial toward each other, but people are not part of their social system.  

Bears do not have the range of expression dogs have.  Bears do not snarl or raise their hackles. 

 

Bears might look like their hackles are raised in summer when they are shedding, but that is only because the last long hairs to shed are along the top of the neck and back. 

 

In fall, some bears look like their hackles are up, but that is only because under fur is growing in and making all their long hairs stand straight out. 

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Dogs can be aggressive, territorial, and prone to attack.  Black bears tend to be restrained, non-territorial toward people, and prone to retreat. 

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For each person killed by a black bear across North America in the last century, about 45 people have been killed by dogs.

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