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Black Bear Encounters

If you Encounter a Bear:

Never Approach, Surround, or Corner a Bear - Bears aggressively defend themselves when they feel threatened. Be especially cautious around cubs as mother bears are very protective.

Never Run from a Bear- stay calm, speak in a loud and calm voice, slowly back away and leave the area.

Use Noise to Scare away Bears from Your Campsite- yell, clap, or bang pots immediately upon sighting a bear near your campsite.

Do Not Throw Your Backpack or Food Bag at an Approaching Bear

  • Doing so will only encourage bears to approach and "bully" people to get food.
  • By teaching a bear to approach humans for food, you are endangering yourself, other campers/residents, and the bears.
A black bear in the forest.
Most black bears prefer to avoid humans.

In Your Yard:

  • From a safe distance, make loud noises by shouting or banging pots to scare the bear away.
  • Once the bear leaves, remove all attractants such as bird seed, garbage, and pet food.
  • Ask neighbors to remove attractants.

In a Building:

  • Give the bear a clear escape route.
  • Leave any doors open as you back away from the bear.
  • Do not lock the bear in a room.

If a Bear Becomes Aggressive and:

Approaches you:

  • Raise your arms and speak in a loud, calm voice while backing away.

Charges you:

  • Stand your ground.
  • If you have bear spray, dispense directly at the bear. Please follow the link leaving the DEC's website to learn about the proper use of bear spray.

Follows you:

  • Stay together.
  • Do not run, but continue to back away while speaking loudly.
  • If the bear continues to follow you:
    • Stand your ground.
    • Intimidate by making yourself look bigger by waving arms, clapping, shouting, banging sticks.
    • Prepare to fight or use bear spray.
  • If the bear makes contact with you:
    • Fight back with anything at hand (knife, stick, rocks, fists).
A black bear standing tall on its hind legs.
Did you know?
A bear standing on its hind feet is not a prelude to
an attack. Bears stand taller so they can get a
better view and smell of their surroundings.

Planning a visit to the outdoors? Contact the NYS DEC about the area you plan to visit:

  • Eastern Adirondacks: (518) 897-1291
  • Western Adirondacks: (315) 785-2261
  • Northern Catskills: (607) 652-7367
  • Southern Catskills: (845) 256-3098
  • Central New York: (607) 753-3095 ext. 247
  • Eastern Allegany region: (607) 776-2165, ext. 16
  • Western Allegany region: (716) 372-0645

To report the feeding of bears or a bear encounter, contact the nearest Regional DEC Wildlife Office.

For more information about black bears, check out:

  • Reducing Human-Bear Conflicts- Advice on avoiding conflicts with bears in your back yard as well as in the backcountry.
  • Black Bears- Black bear facts, home range map, and links to other DEC black bear resources.

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  • For help with PDFs on this page, please call 518-402-8883.
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  • Bureau of Wildlife
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    Albany, NY 12233-4754
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