Can bears climb trees?

Can Bears Climb Trees? Dispelling A Dangerous Myth

If a bear chases you should you climb a tree. Can bears climb trees?

Can bears climb trees?
Adult Brown Bear Climbing A Tree.

If a bear chases you, should you climb a tree? Can bears climb trees? Or is it only a certain species of bears that can climb trees?

Well, this is a question many people ask and one of the greatest myths that is filled with misconceptions and assumptions.

There used to be a general belief that bears can’t climb trees except for the Giant Panda. Others say only Black bears can climb or only young bears can climb trees. Adult bears can’t.

Below you’ll find out the actual truth of the matter.

Can Bears Climb Trees?

First of all, bears are one of the most adaptable mammals on earth.

Their size and behavior stirs fear, awe, wonder, and curiosity among humans. Unfortunately, several myths surround their behavior and lives that negatively affect their relationship with us.

Stories of ferocious attacks on defenseless hikers have made big headlines in the media, creating an overwhelming sense that bears are mean and dangerous creatures that are a threat to people. In fact, bear attack do happen.

Species like the grizzly ( a subspecies of brown bear) and polar bear are the most notorious ones for such negative human-bear encounters.

Similarly, Sloth bears (mostly found in India and Burma) are even feared more than tigers due to their unpredictable behavior and temperament.

So should you scramble up a tree if a bear chases you?

Unfortunately, a tree is NOT a safe refuge in this instance. Believing bears can’t climb trees is a very dangerous myth and some people have found out the truth too late!

 As you can imagine, quite a number of people are surprised to know that other bear species can climb trees.

Tree-climbing facts per species:

Black Bears: Despite being somewhat timid on the ground, black bears are extremely good in climbing and often gain courage when in trees. Their claws provide great grip and branches offer their young one’s safety from predators. They are also relatively smaller in size than other bears and very fast and agile. All these traits makes tree climbing a breeze for them .

They can also kill their opponents by throwing them off the tree. Thus, by all means, bears can climb trees and it is not a safety precaution.

Giant pandas:  Particularly good at tree climbing whether as cubs or adults.

Grizzly and Polar bears: Generally not great at climbing trees compared to the other species.  However, grizzly cubs and adult grizzly bears will successfully climb a tree if the spacing of the branches is just right for them to do so.

When a mother black bear first brings her cubs out of their den, she will immediately teach them how to climb trees quickly to escape danger.

So What Should You Do If A Bear Chases You?

According to the U.S. National Park Service website if you see a bear clack its teeth and stick out its lips, then this is a warning that it is on the verge of attacking.

Instead of climbing a tree, rather stay on the ground and try fighting the bear with everything you have. If you have bear pepper spray, you can use it to scare it off as this is usually very effective. But if it keeps its stance, then it is time to play dead.

But, do not fall to the ground immediately the bear attacks you. Instead, wait until it makes contact, then you can drop to the ground and maybe keep your backpack (if you have one) on your back as a protection measure.

Lie with your face down and clasp hands over the back of your neck to protect the sides of your face and throat.

After the animal leaves, do not be in a hurry to get up. Stay on the ground for a few more minutes to give the bear time to leave the area. Remember, a defensive bear is likely harmless and could be protecting its cubs.

So in conclusion, bears can climb trees. They just need enough motivation to do so.


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