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Is the brown bear dangerous?

This is probably the most posed question to us and it is not an easy question to answer. In Scandinavia we have the least agressive brown bear in the world. It generally avoids direct contact with humans. The following text is taken from the leaflet


by Sven Brunberg


The Scandinavian brown bear behaves shyly when encountering humans. Good sense of hearing and a  good sense of smell helps it avoid places where it could encounter humans. If you want to be sure not to encounter a bear, you should speak loud and sing a song while hiking on the paths in the wilderness. However, it is possible to surprise a bear. Then it is good to be prepared and know how to behave. 

If you see a bear from your car ...

Stay calm and enjoy the sight! Do not leave the car to take photos. Do not try to touch a sweet tumbling bear cub if you see one on the side of the road. The mother has strong protection instincts and she is not far away!

What to do with garbage
and leftovers...

Avoid leaving smelly leftovers around camping areas. The bear has a well developed sense of smell and a good memory. A bear often comes back to a location where he has found food. The same with garbage – even in closed plastic containers – it sends out smells and a bear might not be able to resist. Please keep in mind to pack away all your garbage. It is important to maintain the bears natural shyness. They must not associate the chance of a tasty meal with the smell of humans.

If you are in a bear area during early summer...

The mating season for bears is between May and June. During this time bears are very active, even during the day. The risk of running into a bear is high at this time of the year. Young males looking out for females walk long distances during the day. The yearlings have just separated from their mother and are exploring the wilderness for the first time on their own. These youngsters can be very curious and are not afraid of humans. You should make them notice you by talking loudly and then leaving the area slowly.

When you are out to pick berries...

Half of the annual diet of the brown bear consists of berries, especially blue berries. During the berry picking season most bears are occupied by eating a large quantity of berries to accumulate fat for the winter. Berry pickers should always be aware of the risk of
encountering a bear in places with lots of berries. Bears do not defend territories, especially a berry rich site. Generally the bear has already left the place you are approaching, because its sense of smell and its sense of hearing have warned it in time. However, if you meet a bear, make your presence known by talking and leave the area slowly.

When you see a bear resting or eating a carcass...

Stay calm. Show the bear that you did not come to steal his food. Raise to your full height and make your presence known by speaking loudly. Retire slowly and carefully the way you came – but never run away! 

When you find a curious cub in your way...

Never try to take photos or make contact. Stay away from wild bears! Keep in mind that its mother is probably just around the corner. Turn around and leave the place the way you came.

When you are out walking with your dog in a bear area...

Keep your dog on a leash. A free running dog increases the risk of a bear encounter. An unskilled dog can, after having discovered the bear, rush directly to the owner to seek protection.. The bear will see the owner as a danger, even if it was the dog who provoked the bear. 

When you encounter a bear whilst hunting...

A hunter sitting in his position or sneaking around in the forest faces a higher risk of encountering a bear. If the bear has not noticed you, you should clap your hands or make some noises. A shot in the air might also be helpful. Never shoot at the bear. Almost all accidents with bears happen with wounded animals. A wounded bear is very dangerous. You should also know that a bear standing on its hind legs is not aggressive. It is just standing upright to survey the surroundings to confirm what its good sense of smell and sharp hearing already have informed him about.

If a bear approaches you...

The bear is provoked by your approach. The following descriptions are the most common explanations for this type of behaviour. It is a female with cubs. It is a bear with a carcass nearby. The bear could not hide himself in a safe place because you appeared suddenly. It might be a bear who has just woken up in his winter den and is just coming out. Last but not least it could have been your dog who has tracked the bear. A provoked bear might attack you. Commonly it is just a fake. You should signal as soon as possible  your peaceful intentions. Talk loud, do not hit the bear or make any threatening gestures. Leave the place slowly and never run!

If it does not help and the bear attacks...

Make a last effort to distract the bear. Put something in front of you, your berry pail or your fishing equipment. If this does not help, lay down on the ground in the foetal position or on your stomach. Put your hands around your neck and protect your head. Pretend you
are dead. You appear less threatening to the bear by making yourself as small as possible and behaving as passively as possible.