Saturday, April 26, 2008
Out here in Wyoming, even though it snowed last night, bears will be waking up fairly soon. Someone recently asked me if he could huff at a bear who huffed at him. Would it intimidate the bear into running away? A lot of people mistakenly think a bear turning to the side and making a huffing noise indicates aggression. Not so. It indicates a nervous and distressed bear. A bear considering an attack will face you silently, and maybe move toward you. In both cases, you should face the bear, stand your ground, stand tall, and show the bear you are not afraid--even if you are. As far as I know, humans huffing at bears has never been studied. I do, however, suspect huffing at a bear might make it think you're nervous and distressed. Until more is known, I think we should leave huffing to the bear. For more info, the best book on dealing with bears I've ever read is Dave Smith's Backcountry Bear Basics (www.mountaineersbooks.org).