Are Black Bears Cowards? (5 Helpful Tips You Should Know!)

Most of the time, a black bear will run away if it encounters a person. But does it mean black bears are cowardly creatures?

Here’s what I found out  – 

Black bears are not cowards. In fact, they just try to avoid people as much as possible.

This fear is a result of spending many years being prey to saber-toothed cats, wolves, and other bear species. As a result, the black bear is always ready to run and climb trees.

But in some cases where the black bear can not run, it will fight back. 

Now that you’ve learned that black bears are not cowards, would you also like to know what they are afraid of?

Let’s continue reading, to find out.

Table of Contents

What are Black Bears Afraid Of?

Black bears are afraid of many things, to scare them away you can do the following;

Make Loud Noises

The majority of black bear attacks are a result of sudden encounters. Situations where you take the bear by surprise.

Primarily, the bear will charge and react in a defensive manner. So making loud noises such as using bear alarms, shouting, and yelling will drive away a black bear.

They naturally think that noise is a form of threat. Thus, anytime they hear such sounds they run away.

Park rangers and bear experts have confirmed it to be an effective way of chasing away black bears. And if you are hiking alone, it’s a good idea to have a bear alarm with you.

Use Air horns

Black bears are afraid of airhorns. It is another good way to repel them.

Air horns for scaring bear

Airhorns are undeniably loud to announce your presence. A lot of campers fire these airhorns before going out from their pavilion.

They do this to scare black bears that might be walking around for food near campsites.

If you encounter a black bear, use an air horn to frighten it. Usually, it will run away.

Bang Pots & Pans

Just like making a loud noise, banging pots and pans together are practical ways of scaring a black bear.

If you see them in your backyard, go far away from them. After that, clash the sounds of your pans and pots loud enough to chase them away. 

Always Remember:

Put away any food materials in your trash so that it would not attract them.

Use Bear Spray

Black bears are also afraid of sprays because they are good bear-repellent.

Typically these sprays are for self-defense in case a black bear attacks you.  When it becomes aggressive and keeps coming close to you, spray it on the bear’s face. 

This will reduce the tendency of the bear to attack you (although it is not a guarantee).

Bear Spray for scaring bears

However, it’s something you should learn how to use. Always keep the spray where you can reach it in milli-seconds. And make sure to practice how to pick and uncover it quickly.

When Would a Black Bear Fight Back?

Although black bear revenge is very rare, it will fight back on two occasions: 

1). When They Don’t Have an Escape Route

The black bear would prefer to run away rather than fight back.

But in situations where it cannot escape, It will stand its ground to confront the enemy and defend itself.

2). When They See Food

Black bears will attack humans when they see food on them.

The scent of food in campsites or backyards can attract the bear and make them aggressive.

Although it rarely happens, this may lead to serious attacks and injuries.

Are Black Bears Afraid of Dogs?

Yes, black bears are afraid of dogs.

They mostly avoid coming in contact with them, even if they are in their pens or are in chains.

This is due to the high pitch of a dog’s bark which sounds similar to one of their major predator ‘’wolves’’.

Black bears also see dogs as humans who are a notable threat to their existence, thus when they are pursued by dogs, they usually run and climb trees. 

Even if it is a puppy, black bears do not take chances. However, they’ve learned to keep away from dogs.

Are Black Bears Afraid of Humans?

Yes, there are times when black bears are afraid of humans.

When they get scared, they always run fast and hide on tree branches. 

However, fear may not be the right word to describe how they feel about us. They can be said to be “wary” around humans.

They’re typically shy, and just cautious of possible danger that might come to them. 

This is no surprise why they avoid coming in contact with people.

According to Experts, the intensity and duration of harm from humans determine how scared a black bear will be. 

This simply means that the more the human population, and the shorter the distance the bear is from them, the  more scared they will be.

However, research has shown that black bears are becoming less fearful of humans because they are now relating humans to food.

Are Black Bears Afraid of Cats?

Yes, black bears are afraid of cats no matter the size.

They always stay clear even if they come across them. This is because of two reasons.

Differences in habitats

Black bears are not found in the same habitats as cats unless the cats reside in rural areas or in the woods.


Big cats are one of their major predators

Wild cats like Bobcats, Siberian cats, Ragdoll cats, etc have been known to hunt and eat black bears. 

Therefore, black bears instinctively avoid cats.

Cats are known to outrun black bears, so the bears mostly don’t bother chasing after them even if they see one.

Sometimes black bears are the ones to run upon sighting a feline; They wouldn’t take the chance of being killed and eaten.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Black bears are not cowards. They are only scared of becoming prey to their enemies.

They are usually afraid of:

  • Loud noises
  • Air horns
  • Bear spray etc 

They avoid coming in contact with dogs, cats, and human beings because they perceive them as great threats.

Now that it is clear to you, would love to know if black bears are active at night or during the day. See our article ‘’Are Bears Nocturnal or Diurnal?’’ to find out.