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troubleinharlem's avatar

Would playing dead really save you in a bear attack?

Asked by troubleinharlem (7981points) August 14th, 2010

Seriously, it seems kind of like a stupid idea. Would it honestly work if someone was being attacked by a bear?

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25 Answers

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Hopefully it would not pick up the “body” and start thrashing it round!

Winters's avatar

From my understanding, with black bears yes, anything bigger especially with how they’re limited to their prey, no

Frenchfry's avatar

You are suppose to not move.I guess play dead. If you run they have instinct to chase you . Chances are not good.That is what I have heard.

Winters's avatar

Oh, and if you HAVE to run from a bear, run downhill, the steeper the better. With their front legs/arms being so much shorter than their rear legs, they’ll end up either tumbling down or slowing their pace significantly.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

I’m actually currently doing some work in bear country, and had to take several bear safety classes prior to being allowed out in the field. @Winters has actually got it backwards. You are supposed to play dead in a brown/grizzly bear attack, and not a black bear attack.

The basic premise is this: If you are walking along, and surprise a bear, they may perceive you as a threat, and charge to attack. Most of the time it is a bluff charge, and they will break away at the last second. So, you are supposed to hold your ground and speak to the bear in a calm, but assertive voice. If the (brown) bear does attack, you should lie flat on your stomach, with your hands interlocked behind your neck to offer some protection to your head. Often times the bear will stop after a few seconds when it has determined that you are not a threat.

If the bear does not stop after 5 seconds or so, you should begin to fight like crazy, focusing your attacks on the bears sensitive nose and eyes. If a black bear attacks, you should always begin fighting. They are more aggressive to humans, especially when startled. Playing dead will not aid you against a black bear.

And, you never run from a bear (or any other predator). It will almost guarantee an attack, and all bears are faster then a human could ever want to be. It doesn’t matter what the terrain is, if you run from a bear, you will lose.

Aster's avatar

Who in the world could lay there while a bear attack is going on??
Talk about control !!

Coloma's avatar


Yes, and the same for Mountain lions, no running I mean, but fighting back is best if it comes to that.

Playing dead with a big cat most likely result in your being dead.

I surprised a cougar behind my barn some years ago and fortunetly it backed off after a tense minute or so of us locked in gaze.

I know that a direct stare is threatening too but, no way was I going to take my eyes off that cat.

I backed halfway down the hill and then, yep, I ran like hell to the safety of my garage! lolol

ucme's avatar

Would crying like a bitch & screaming like a girl be effective? I know this works with wasps & funnily enough particularly stubborn jehovah’s witnessessssss…...;¬}

Coloma's avatar


LOL…I dunno…different strokes for different animals, in my case that cougar had it made if it wanted to cache for for Sunday dinner, It was a hot night and I was putting my critters to bed literally naked. Naked woman in the woods with a flashlight, talk about sending out a signal, haha.

Yep, no clothing to chew through for that cat, just a perfectly prepped 130 lbs. of meat on the ‘hoof.’ lolol

ucme's avatar

@Coloma “If you go down in the woods today, you better go in disguise….” Maybe it was flirting with you. I mean, naked at night in the woods!!!! What more could he ask for?

rebbel's avatar

Would carry a black bear suit with you when traveling around in brown-/grizzly bear country be a good idea?
And a Bigfoot or Yeti suit when traveling in black bear country?

Coloma's avatar


Yeah, well….all I could think of as that cats huge glowing green eyes penetrated the beam of the flashlight was the old Little Red Riding Hood line….” My what big eyes you have!”

I didn’t want to know how big it’s teeth were! haha

It was literally 4 feet in front of me, the scariest part was that I was squating down and when my flashlight caught it’s eyes it was crouching too, as I held the flashlight steady in it’s face it sloooowly rose up to a stand and was towering over me by several feet….I had to stand up and hope it didn’t jump me! It was wild…no doubt! lol

A few years before a woman about my age and size was taken down on a trail nearby, jogging with a walkman…she never saw that cat coming, they found her cached with her lungs and other insides consumed. The lion was a small, underweight female with cubs.
But, big enough to kill a 140 lb. woman.
They tracked and killed the cougar and her cubs went to a local wildlife zoo. Sad.

Coloma's avatar


Haha…dress as a bear!

What always gets me are these idiots on videos that are feeding bears marshmellows and such and then are surprised when they get agressive and rip their car apart. lol

Uh…it’s all good til you run out of marshmellows! haha

Frenchfry's avatar

I wonder if it’s the same with wolves too? I have encountered wolves. One went by my glass patio window one time. Freaky. That was when I lived in Colorado.

Coloma's avatar


I think a lone wolf would not be much of a threat, I don’t know. I don’t think wolf attacks are as common as bears and cougars, and even the mountain lion attacks are pretty rare.

Since wolves hunt in packs it might be more dangerous if you were caught off gaurd in the woods, or, if you stumbled across a kill with them nearby.

I have found cached deer from lions out here several times and by the time I realize what I am looking at I get really spooked if the lion is watching me.

I know they see me far more than I see them. They are masters of stealth.

Bears probably win for more attacks overall.

Your_Majesty's avatar

Hungry bear? I don’t think so. Bears are scavengers when there’s no food around.

Aster's avatar

@Coloma OMG! Now it stood up on hind legs and towered over you by several feet??? And you did not even scream. Amazing. Do u still go out past dark?

Coloma's avatar


Haha..yes, I have to make the nightly rounds, but, there is more open space around this house, no backing up to the tree line.

It didn’t rear up on it’s hind legs like a horse, haha…it just stood from crouching but I was still squating over a feed bucket so it’s head was level with my head.
Very scary!
No, I didn’t scream, I could barely breathe! lol

I did have a drink when I got back in the house. haha

Aster's avatar

I would have called each and every friend and relative right away! and thanked God I was alive and well.
How much did he weigh, would you say?

Aster's avatar

so we can’t run, we can’t play dead and we can’t climb a tree.
Therefore, Coloma got REAL lucky. REAL. makes me want to stick to the boring ‘burbs where we have nothing but squirrels
There was a regular CAT in the front yard last week and I could not believe my eyes!! Something alive that wasn’t a squirrel or human.

Coloma's avatar


I don’t was a big study cat, probably a male by it’s size.

The young males that are displaced from territories ruled by older dominant males, and the females with cubs are the most likely to attack.

Maybe this guy was a big, dominant male and had eaten recently, so yeah, I did get lucky! lol

Okay..I think I am dominating this thread, better be done with my chattering, too much coffee this morning. lol ;-)

SundayKittens's avatar

@rebbel THAT is ideal, I think. Fake them out!
I came very close to this situation last month without knowing it until that evening, and just the thought sends my heart racing. I know my fight-or-flight reflex would quickly slide into a flail-arms-and-scream-for-my-mama reflex. Would pepper spray be effective, without doing long-term harm to the animal?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Just stay out of the woods, man!

Aster's avatar

@Dutchess_III ...and I thought ants were threatening. I wonder if they make a bear-proof suit? Sure, you could hardly walk but it would be well worth it. Think, Tin Man, Wizard of Oz-type outfit.

Frenchfry's avatar

@Aster Your a gem . Don’t ever change.

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