© 2023 KLCC

136 W 8th Ave
Eugene OR 97401

Contact Us

FCC Applications
Oregon's Willamette Valley seen from Eugene
NPR for Oregonians
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Bear Encounter Dos and Don'ts

Phil Horton

The recent sighting of a mama bear and her three cubs near Lane Community College’s main campus has officials urging caution.  As KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, there is conflicting advice on how to handle a bear encounter.   

Coming across a bear in a residential area – let alone the forest -- can be a startling event.  Often the animal is just hungry, and can be dispelled with a loud, calm, and firm voice.  

Credit Ryan Snyder / Flickr.com
A mature black bear takes a stroll. People are advised to talk, sing, or laugh loudly to discourage head-on encounters.

But myths persist, such as how running downhill or climbing up a tree will elude a bear.  And what works for one type of bear may not for another.   

Michelle Dennehy of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says there are many practical tips shared on their website, but among the most important…

“Stop.  Don’t continue to approach it.  You want to give any bear you encounter a way to escape, so step off the trail…slowly walk away.  Just give the bear space to leave," advises Dennehy.  

"If it’s a mama bear with bear cubs, the bears will tend to be more aggressive, so if you see bear cubs you do want to leave that area, because it likely means that mother bear is around.” 

Credit Jim Mullhaupt / Flickr.com
A bear climbs atop a dumpster, looking for food.

There are an estimated 30,000 black bears living in Oregon.  If any start appearing in neighborhoods, it could be because they’re attracted to garbage, uncleaned grills, or bird feeders.  Wildlife officials say cleaning or removing these items can stop tempting bears into areas where people live.

Copyright 2017, KLCC. 

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
Related Content