Peaceful Coexistence

Can humans and black bears peacefully coexist?

“Yes,” says bear expert Lynn Rogers, Ph.D., of the North American Bear Center. Rogers is a wildlife biologist who has studied bears for 40 years. You may have seen him on the one-hour Animal Planet special, “The Man Who Walks with Bears.” He is recognized around the world as the leading expert in bear behavior.

Rogers maintains that one of the safest places to be is in the woods with black bears. Why? Because black bears are typically not aggressive toward humans. When threatened, their first instinct is to run away or climb a tree. The claws of black bears are strong for climbing trees, but not sharp for holding prey. They are primarily vegetarian. Unlike grizzly bears, mother black bears do not defend their cubs against people. Rogers and his colleagues have routinely tagged black bear cubs in the presence of their mothers and no one has ever been seriously injured or killed. Additionally, no one in the written history of New Jersey has ever been killed or seriously injured by a black bear.

According to Rogers, you are…

  • 45 times more likely to be killed by a dog
  • 247 times more likely to be killed by lightning
  • 120 times more likely to be killed by a bee
  • 60,000 times more likely to be murdered by another human being…than to be killed by a black bear.

So if you see a bear, enjoy the experience.