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How dangerous are bluff charges?

bluff_charge.jpgStories of bears rushing at people are rare but do happen.  These are bears that make the news.  They are the unusually aggressive bears that create stories of narrow escapes.  The stories typically involve a mother with cubs in someone's yard for birdseed or garbage putting her ears back and rushing at someone who barely makes it into the back door.  No one is hurt, but it creates fear. 

(see video below) 

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Do black bears growl?

Bear Center researchers are still waiting to find out.  In over 40 years of capturing, observing, and confronting bears—and seeing the occasional fight—they have yet to hear their first growl. 

This is NOT a bear!  This is actually a wolf growling and threatening.  This wolf growl is often used as a bear sound in movies and on TV because people think black bears should sound like this.  Growls are rare or absent in black bears.  Fearful people often describe any bear sound as a growl.   

But how does that square with the many people who say they have heard black bears growl?

(see video below) 

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Scared Cubs & Crying Babies Sound Alike

cute_cub.jpgBlack bear cubs and human babies can sound enough alike to confuse both species.

On August 7, 1990, a scared cub sounded so much like a person yelling “Help” that people ran into the woods to help.

Similarly, crying babies can stir the motherly instincts of black bears.