Bear sightings will ramp up in Mississippi. We debunk 10 myths to keep you safe.

·2 min read
Washington State Department of Natural Resources /Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Winter is coming, which means black bears are currently on the hunt for some food.

The Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries, & Parks urges residents to be ready for more black bear sightings before cold weather approaches, as several bears may go outside of their home ranges in search of nutrition.

However, there may be some misconceptions when it comes to bears and how they feed and function.

Here are 10 myths about black bears, according to BearWise.

1. Myth: A mother black bear with cubs is always dangerous

Cubs can climb a tree when threatened, so there is no need for a mother bear to attack. Give the bears plenty of space, and changing routes is always a good option as well.

2. Myth: Black bears that wander into campsites or towns are dangerous

In the Southeast, it is not uncommon to live in or near a bear home range. A bear that wanders around is looking for food and if residents have secured their garbage, homes and pets, the bear will move along.

3. Myth: A black bear standing on its hind legs is about to charge

This stance is simply to see, hear or smell better.

4. Myth: Black bears have poor eyesight

Bear and human eyesight are very similar. Bears can see in color and have sharp night vision.

5. Myth: Relocating or killing a black bear will solve a conflict

Neither of these options is a permanent solution to a problem. Typically, eliminating food sources will do the trick.

6. Myth: Play dead during a bear attack

This is never a good option; instead, if a bear is truly attacking you, it is best to fight back and never run. You can fight back by punching, throwing rocks or by using any nearby sticks or other objects that would hurt the bear.

7. Myth: It is dangerous to go into black bear country when menstruating

Menstruation does not increase the likelihood of a bear attack, but it is important that you wrap and store sanitary products in a bear-resistant container.

8. Myth: If a black bear charges, climb a tree

Black bears are actually expert tree climbers. It is better to calmly stand your ground and wait until the bear walks away.

9. Myth: Black bear attacks are common

They are rare; most bears will be gone before you know they are there.

10. Myth: Grizzly bears are brown and black bears are black

In the Southeast, black bears are typically black, but in other parts, they can have white, gray or blond coloring.

Black bears are the most wide-ranging bear in the nation. There are black bears in 40 of the 50 states, including all Southeastern states.

For more information about black bears and how to keep your home safe during a time of more frequent sightings, go to BearWise.org or visit the Georgia Department of Natural Resources website.