Bear Phobia: Why Do Humans Fear Bears So Much?

Arkoudaphobia or Bear Phobia: the excessive fear of bears. But is this fear warranted or not?

A Bear Warning Sign: Bear Phobia

We know that bears are wildlife. Yes. They can be unpredictable and can hurt you. But does that mean they will automatically seek humans out and attack them just for the sake of it?

Certainly not!

So if that’s the truth, why do some people exhibit bear phobia and sometimes even hate them so much?

Presently, the impact of this fear – and other factors – is glaring among the bear population. For example, did you know that some species of bears have been eliminated from most of their former territories in North America?

Take the case of the California Grizzly Bear for instance.

The situation is even worse in other parts of the world where trophy hunting of bears is allowed and encouraged.

Let’s find out some of the major factors that are fueling bear phobia and hatred.

Bear Phobia: Some Of The Contributing Factors.

Negative Publicity

In reality, humans cross paths with bears more often than you may think without any issues.

Scary Magazine Picture Of A Bear

A Bar Breaking Into A House: Outdoor Magazines Are Notorious For Fueling Bear Phobia.

Many times, people testify that the animal runs away. But the media doesn’t report that. On the contrary, they’d rather talk about the very rare incidents where there is a full-on attack or human fatality.

Outdoor magazines in particular are prone to this kind of negative portrayal of bears out in the wild. Their publications show bears snarling, snouts dripping with saliva, and a crazed look in the animal’s eyes.

Note that many of these publications want to make a sale and as they say ‘bad news sells more papers than good news.’

Strangely, the real people who do go out there such as hunters, researchers, and rural dwellers know that this image of bears is far from the truth.

Rarely will you get unbiased and balanced information about bears from the media.

Excessive Warnings About Attacks

You’ve probably seen countless of them while you’re out and about in the wild and hiking in the woods. Those numerous warnings about bear attacks. However, many of those warnings are there to avoid liability in the event of a bear-related incident.

They are excessive, designed to make people overcautious, and some are downright ridiculous. For instance, some even warn against women hiking during their period. Only polar bears have exhibited some interest to human menstrual blood.

 Only polar bears show evidence of attraction to human menstrual blood.

Some Particular Bears Do Attack: More Often Than Other Species

We are not going to pull any punches here: of course some bear species do have a tendency to attack when compared to others.

Historical evidence shows that grizzlies and polar bears are more likely to attack than black bears. A startled black bear will attempt to run up a tree first, unlike a grizzly that may charge but only occasionally will it go ahead to attack.

Grizzlies are about 20 times more likely to attack than black bears.

But many publications won’t tell you that. They just lump everything together demonizing every single bear on the face of the planet.

Yet, because of media exaggeration that fuel fear, people would just rather avoid ALL bears than take a chance getting hurt. And that’s understandable.

Even so, it’s not every single grizzly or polar bear that will come tearing out at you lusting for your blood.

That’s just impractical.

As a matter of fact, most bears would rather avoid you if they can as they are as frightened of you as you are of them.

The Belief That Bears Can Smell Your Fear And Then Attack

This is another popular myth fueled by misinformation. The majority of humans that enter bear territory are afraid. The animals may sense it, but they don’t attack.

On the contrary, they may be also be afraid of you. Rarely if ever do you find bears of any species that seek people out with the sole purpose of eating them.

What Are The Signs Of An Angry Bear?

So, what do you actually do if confronted by a bear? How do you tell if the bear is startled, angry, or fearful? Here are a few signs to watch out for:

  • Unlike common animals like cats and dogs, bears don’t bare their teeth when they feel threatened. Black bears in particular will run, or climb up a tree for safety.
  • An uneasy bear may exhibit harmless bluster to scare you off like lunging and slamming their front paws down.
  • You may notice the animal blowing explosively.
  • A she-bear with cubs may display aggression especially if you startle her.

Final Thoughts: A Few Tips To Remember

  • You can avoid bear attacks by putting space between you and the animals.
  • Offensive attacks resulting in fatalities are very rare.
  • Bears in very remote areas with very little human contact may have more boldness to attack people. That could explain why polar bears for instance are quite aggressive towards people.
  • Bears that raid campgrounds and household bins looking for food rarely kill people. Many of them see humans every day.
  • Always keep food well concealed and dispose of leftovers properly. The scent of human food attracts bears.
  • Carry some pepper spray with you. It works quite well and will not harm the bear permanently.
  • Make noise as you move around, if possible carry a whistle and use it at intervals.
  • As much as possible, go hiking with a companion or in a group.

Most importantly, pay attention and don’t get distracted with mobile phones, headphones, and so on while you are out in bear territory.

 

References:

http://www.wikihow.com/Survive-a-Bear-Attack

http://www.wikihow.com/Survive-a-Bear-Attack

https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/nature/grizzlybear-menstrual-odor.htm

https://www.bear.org/website/bear-pages/why-we-fear-bears.html

http://phobia.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_phobias

1 thought on “Bear Phobia: Why Do Humans Fear Bears So Much?

  1. MB

    Do not blow a whistle at regular intervals. Just clap your hands and talk or sing loudly to alert wildlife of your presence. They will keep their distance. Wildlife wants nothing to do with humans. Whistle should be used in emergency situation only. Also, regular pepper spray will not deter a bear. You need to get Bear Repellent spray and keep it quickly and easily accessible.

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