Living in bear-country and along what appears to be a bear commuter-trail in my backyard, I’m constantly feeding out interesting bear facts to the guests who come through our home. Most of our guests are city slickers whose understanding of bears mirrors my own understanding of country music: I don’t get it. In fact, because I don’t get it I’ve made up all kinds of horror stories about abused guitars, wrangler butts, and cowboy hats that have defiled one-too-many airwaves.
Myths abound anywhere there is a lack of understanding. This is how conspiracy theories start, how misinformation becomes fact, and how all-too-often public policies are formed. Hearsay and common-knowledge, true or not, becomes the guiding ethic or practice towards whatever it is we don’t understand.
Bears, not surprisingly, are the subject of many myths and hearsays and have become the victims of public policies harmful or out-right deadly to them. And while some false things we believe about bears are almost cute, some of the things we believe wrongly about bears have significant consequences.
That said, when my city slicker guests show up and starting asking about bears, I start by remembering that country music actually isn’t all that bad and then proceed to go through a list of bear myths my guests shouldn’t believe. Stay tuned for future bear smart blog posts as we explore each of the following myths a little further. Until then, here is a list of 15 MYTHS commonly believed about bears (i.e. they are not true):
Myth #1 – Bears have poor eyesight.
Myth #2 – If a bear is standing on it’s hindlegs, it’s about to charge.
Myth #3 – If a bear charges you, climb a tree.
Myth #4 – Bear bells are the best way to avoid a surprise encounter.
Myth #5 – One of the most dangerous encounters is getting between a mother black bear and her cubs.
Myth #6 – Carrying a rifle is safer than pepper spray.
Myth #7 – Bears are unpredictable.
Myth #8 – Once a bear has tasted human food, it won’t eat wild food anymore.
Myth #9 – Shooting or relocating a ‘nuisance’ bear will solve the problem.
Myth #10 – Bears that wander into inhabited areas such as campsites, communities, or cottage country are ‘problem’ bears.
Myth #11 – Bears can’t run downhill.
Myth #12 – People travelling in bear country are often attacked.
Myth #13 – It is dangerous to go into bear country when menstruating.
Myth #14 – Bears are carnivores.
Myth #15 – Play dead during an attack.
For 185-pages of fascinating bear facts, trivia, and tales check out Sylvia Dolson’s book titled, Bear-ology. Sylvia is the director of Get Bear Smart and is a leading expert on living with bears in residential areas.