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Myth:  "Mother bears wake up in the spring and are surprised they have cubs!"

Truth:  Mother bears may actually leave their den to bring in more bedding prior to the birth of cubs.   They are restless and wakeful during labor.   When their cubs are born, they are attentive to every cry.

Myth:  “Bears stink!”

Truth:  There is very little odor from a black bear—unless the bear has rolled in something.   Generally they simply smell like the forest.   Adult bears may have a slight musky odor during mating season.

Myth:  "Bears are nocturnal"

Truth:  Black bears are generally active half an hour before sunrise.   They may nap once or twice during the day.   They generally bed down for the night an hour or two after sunset.   Bears may become nocturnal to avoid people.  They also become nocturnal as they slow down in the fall before denning.

Myth:  “Never get between a mother bear and her cubs!”

 Truth:  This warning is true for brown/grizzly bears.   However, black bears mothers are highly unlikely to attack.


Myth:  “When bears lose their fear of people they are more likely to attack”

Truth:  Bears that are unafraid of people are less apt to flee.    However, they are no more likely to attack than any other bears—and some studies have shown that they are less likely to attack.   Many human-tolerant bears are killed because of this myth!


Myth:  “Bears lurk in the woods waiting to attack people”

Truth:  Black bears are more apt to quietly slip away before you ever see them.   They are likely to run if they are surprised by you.   If they don’t run, they are easy to chase away.

Myth:  "A bear standing on its hind legs is about to charge"

Truth:   A standing bear is simply trying to see, smell, or hear better than it can when on all fours.

Myth: Bears Attack If They Sense Fear

Truth.  This is a common worry, but most people are afraid near bears and are not attacked.

Myth: Relocating or killing a black bear will solve a conflict.

Truth:  Relocating an individual bear may temporarily solve a human-bear conflict. Public safety may occasionally require that an individual bear be killed. However, neither of these options are permanent, effective, long-term solutions. Relocated bears often try to return home where they feel comfortable.  

Myth: Black bears have poor eyesight.

Truth:  Bears have vision similar to us, and can see in color, too. Their night vision is very sharp and they detect movement quickly.

Myth: Black bear attacks are common.

Black bear attacks are extremely rare.  For each person killed by a black bear:

 2 by brown/grizzly bears

13 by snakes

17 by spiders

45 by dogs

120 by bees

150 by tornadoes

249 by lightning

32,000 by humans

Myth: If a black bear charges you, climb a tree.

Black bears are excellent tree climbers, far better than you. If a black bear charges, stand your ground. The bear will likely break its charge and run away, or climb a tree to be safe from you. Keep standing your ground until a bear leaves, and then calmly walk away.

Myth: Black bears are unpredictable.

Like people, bears can show their intentions through body language and the sounds they make. The more you learn about bear behavior, the better choices you will make in their presence.

Myth: Grizzly bears are brown and black bears are black.

Black bears come in more colors than any other North American mammal. They can be black, brown, cinnamon, blond, blue-gray, or white.

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