Defense Against Bears

Black bears are the only bears in AZ and are generally scared of humans. Black bears will generally try to avoid humans. The best defense against a bear attack is to avoid bears. Hiking in groups and making noise with bear bells etc will alert the bear of your presence so you don’t spook them. Store food away from where you sleep and secure trash and food in bear proof containers.

If you see a bear in the distance, alter your route to avoid it. On the rare occasion that a bear approaches you, discourage it by:

  • Making yourself as large and imposing as possible. Stand upright and wave your arms, jacket or other items, and make loud noises.
  • Do not run and never play dead.
  • Give the bear a chance to leave the area.
  • If the bear does not leave, stay calm, continue facing it, and slowly back away.
  • If the Bear Attacks, use bear spray.

Should I use Bear Spray or Firearms?

According to the US Fish and Wildlife service, people who use firearms to defend against bear attacks avoid injury only about 50% of the time, where people who use bear spray avoid injury a majority of the time [1]. Our Arizona Game and Fish Department as well as the US Fish and Wildlife Service promote the use of bear spray as the most effective form of defense against bears. Bear spray can also be used without reporting or increased legal burdens on the defender, as opposed to firearms which come with additional requirements.

1 . US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bear Spray vs. Bullets, Which offers better protection?,