What To Do If You See a Black Bear and Bear Proofing

Several Black Bears have been spotted in the Akron, Ohio area this month, check out this map of black bears spotted in NE Ohio. It is exciting and scarey all at once, especially if you have children and enjoy spending time outdoors. Since Ohioans encounter only 100-200 yearly, we aren’t the most knowledgeable on what to do if you see a black bear or even bear proofing your yard. Living with black bears may become more common in NE Ohio, so read on for great information I gathered from various sources.

What To Do if you See a Black Bear

With black bear sightings all around the Akron, Ohio area, chances are higher than ever that you may see a bear. Knowing what to do if you see a bear could be life saving. The general rule is to STAY CALM since black bears are usually afraid of people and don’t attack as long as they are given their space and not cornered.


  • Act calm, don’t run
  • Warn bear you are there – talk in firm, calm voice
  • Allow space between you and the black bear – back away slowly – don’t make the bear feel trapped
  • Raise your hands above your head to look larger if the bear approaches – clap your hands and shout to scare bear away
  • Exit the area
  • If bear doesn’t spot you, back away quietly
  • If the bear sees you, don’t make direct eye contact, back away slowly, be sure the bear has an escape route,  waving your arms may help it identify you as a human since they have poor eyesight and may think you are another animal.
  • If the bear charges, stand your ground, it may be a bluff charge – you can’t outrun a black bear that can run 30 mph.
  • Consider climbing a tree, even though black bears are good climbers, they may see you as not a threat if you climb a tree. It is recommended to climb at least 33 feet high to reduce the treat of being pulled down – we don’t have many options that tall around Akron though!
  • If it continues after you and makes contact, drop to the ground, curl up in a cannonball/fetal position with your head between your knees and  hands clapsed around the back of your neck and play dead. By playing dead, you don’t appear as a threat, it may leave you alone or inflict mild injuries.
  • Keep your backpack on as a layer of protection.
  • If the bear aggressively attacks you, fight back with anything that is available to you with all that you have.
  • Keep bear bear pepper spray with you when hiking or where you may come in close contact with a bear.  If you spray the face of a charging bear at close range with oil-based, 10% oleoresin capsicum pepper spray, it can halt an attack.

Learn more about what to do if you encounter a bear and how to use bear pepper spray.

Bear Proofing Your Backyard

If you are worried about black bears in your backyard, there are bear proofing techniques you can do in your backyard. #1 Don’t leave out an easy meal!

  • Remove Bird Feeders – especially suet and hummingbird feeders – if you keep feeders up clean up spilled seed below feeders
  • Store Trash in garage or secure, air-tight container – take out the morning of trash pick up, not the night before
  • Double bag garbage to reduce odors that attract bears
  • Don’t put meats, fish,  or sweet food scraps in compost
  • Clean your outdoor grill after every use
  • If you have fruit trees, don’t allow fruit to rot on ground
  • Keep Pets inside – especially at night – You don’t want Fido to become a midnight snack!
  • Pick Your Berries – if you have berry bushes, pick berries so there aren’t easy snacks for bears

To report a black bear sighting, you can call 1-800-945-3543.

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Founder and Lead Blogger at Akron Ohio Moms
Cindy is the top Akron Blogger with her own take on awesome brands for families, where to vacation for families, a beat on local activities and family fun, a knack for getting moms to share , and a house that is always 2 weeks away from a complete remodel!
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