The Oregon Black Bear

The black bear population in Oregon has exploded over the last few years. It is estimated that there are from 25,000 to 30,000 bears in the state. Their range is the entire state so you can run into them anywhere when you are hiking or camping.

The good news: There are no grizzley bears in Oregon.

The bad news: Oregon bears can be just as big and as dangerous as grizzleys.

The bad news: It can take many gun shots to kill a bear.

black bear

While they are called black bears many of them are brown, reddish brown, and even blonde. They differ from grizzley bears in that the grizzley has a distinct hump over the shoulder area and the grizzley has a broader head. You cannot tell the difference between a grizzley and a black bear by size only.

Bears love to eat human food. That is why they raid garbage cans and camp sites. It is easy pickings for them. They also love to eat fruit. I used to live a short distance from an old orchard that once belonged to a homestead. It was overgrown and the trees hadn't been pruned in years. This was a popular spot for bears in the fall when the fruit was ripe. Keep your eyes open if you are picking huckleberries or blackberries because bears like them also.

Black Bears

Bears would rather not be around humans and will stay out of your way if they can. They usually won't attack unless they are startled or feel threatened. If you see a bear cub, just leave the area. The mother is nearby and just the fact that you are there near her baby is reason enough for her to attack you.

When camping keep your sleeping area well away from your food preparation area and away from dense brush. Bears may come into your camp at night looking for food. Keep food in the trunk of your car in airtight containers or hang it from a tree at least 10 feet off the ground and six to ten feet away from the tree trunk. Bears can climb trees. They can also be attracted to scented items such as suntan lotion, candles, and soap. Keep food garbage in bear proof containers including refuse from cleaning fish. Don't bury it. Bears will just dig it up. Keep dogs on a leash and don't leave dog food out after your dog has finished eating.

You can purchase bear-proof containers and bear pepper spray at outdoor supply stores.

Read more about Oregon Wildlife including cougar and rattlesnakes.

Black Bear