Bears generally prefer to avoid humans, and many potential encounters go unnoticed by the person involved. Other times an encounter can be threatening to all involved, for example when a female bear feels called on to protect a cub, or when food-conditioned bears grow bold.
To ensure an encounter with a bear is only an encounter—not a conflict—it helps to learn more about the behavior of these wild animals and to take steps to prepare yourself to see one. Bear behavior may seem unpredictable, but it is possible to get a sense of whether they are curious, threatened, or preparing to attack by observing the situation and taking the season, food sources and other factors into account.
Being able to recognize animal behavior helps too. For example, bears will eye a human intently and may demonstrate a natural curiosity until they identify what it is they are seeing. Once the bear realizes it is looking at a person, they most frequently will move off, unless the person's behavior is threatening to them or their young. However, bears have very unique behavioral characteristics and it is useful to learn as much as possible about these commonly occurring creatures.
Human behavior is the other half of the equation in a positive wildlife encounter. [Learn more]
Knowing what to do if you do encounter a bear can ensure it is an encounter instead of a conflict. [Learn more]
Bear biologists and outdoor educators encourage people recreating in Montana's bear country to carry and know how to use bear pepper spray in emergencies.
Know the difference between a black bear and a grizzly bear. [Learn more]