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General Orientation

Rev. November 10, 2020

Black Bear Encounters


  • To make employees aware of the potential hazard of black bear encounters

  • To educate employees and identify steps that can be taken to avoid encounters, and detail how an employee should react during an encounter with a black bear, whether it is a sighting or an attack

Black Bear Encounter Policy

(Document Web Link)

General Information

Black bears are very territorial. They can be very aggressive if confronted during the June breeding season or if a person comes between a sow and her cub. Black bears are wild animals and have the strength to injure or kill a human.


Mandatory Requirements

Employees working in the vicinity of bear habitat must carry at least one of the following;

  • a whistle

  • a bell

  • an airhorn



All incidents and/or occurrences of nuisance bear encounters must be reported to your immediate supervisor.


Black bear avoidance procedure

The following steps will avoid the possibility of a black bear encounter:

  • while traveling in a forest, stay alert and look ahead

  • never approach bears, especially a cub that appears to be along

  • travel or work with a partner when possible especially in areas identified or known to be frequented by bears

  • don’t leave garbage or lunch scraps in the bush, incinerate (when possible) or pack them out to a proper disposal site

  • depending on the remoteness of your job task and the probability of an encounter, the use of bear deterrents and the carrying of an axe are advisable

  • ensure you have received proper training on the use of bear deterrents prior to conducting fieldwork

  • make continuous noise by singing or by wearing a bell


Black bear encounter

The following steps should be followed when a black bear is encountered;

  • stand up and maintain a dominant posture

  • hold something above your head to make yourself look larger (your arms as a minimum).

  • talk to the bear using an assertive voice

  • allow for an escape route if the bear is cornered

  • never play dead

  • never run away


Never turn your back to the bear.

Slowly retreat by walking backwards and consider dropping an article of clothing to distract the bear.

Leave the area immediately if you happen upon a bear cache (den).


Black bear attack

If a black bear attack occurs, the employee should actively protect himself/herself with a possible weapon such as an axe, planting shovel, or use the bear deterrent (targeting the bears eyes and nose), and try to escape.


Other aggressive actions by the employee, which includes kicking, hitting with a fist, yelling or shouting at the bear, could help in escaping an attack. In close combat and as a last resort, the employee should protect their vital organs by dropping to the ground in the fetal position with hands clasped tightly over the back of his neck.


Any black bear attack must be reported and the employee must seek medical attention.

Black bears can be very unpredictable and should be treated with respect.

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