We’ve all been there before: you’re traversing part of Denali National Park in Alaska, when all of a sudden a viciously angry grizzly bear appears in front of you. Maybe you shouldn’t have opted for a backpack full of meatball subs for your trip through bear country—but hindsight’s 20/20. The bear is locked onto you and is blocking your path. Should you run? Is this a time to play dead? Or should you opt to sink a left hook right into ‘ol Yogi’s nose?
Some theorists claim the best defensive action during a shark attack is to wind up and punch that sucker in the nose. Does this tactic also works on bears? These are the types of thoughts that keep us from pulling in Buzzfeed money.
Let’s look at the numbers.
First, let’s look at some bear stats. There are eight different species of bears, and most can live up to 25 years old in the wild. While some bears are cute and small (like the sun bear), others are huge and decidedly less cute. Polar and Kodiak bears are pretty much tied for “biggest bear on Earth,” both weighing in upwards of 1,000 pounds and reaching sizes of 7 to 10 feet in length. Grizzly bears can also reach between 5-8 feet in length and can weigh up to 800 pounds. Unless you’ve got serious skills, you’re probably not doing much damage.
Punching a bear is an un-bearably bad idea.
Don’t take our word for it — we found an expert.
“Bears have about 2,000 times better smell than us humans and so their nerve endings and nasal passages would need to be very sensitive to allow this adaption,” Safari tour guide Shaun Taylor tells URBO. You could maybe use a nose-punch as a defense against a younger bear who’s more curious than hungry, but when it comes to an actual angry poppa/momma bear, a punch isn’t going to work.
“Male bears when they are angry, and because they fight often, may take a punch on the nose as a challenge, and you then have a seriously grumpy bear on your hands,” says Taylor.
That’s really the last thing you want to do — challenge a bear. Because you’re probably not going to win that challenge (Grizzly Man anyone?)
So what should you do if you encounter a grumpy bear in the woods?
“My advice, use bear spray or just stay a safe distance away,” says Taylor.
We couldn’t agree more. If you find yourself in bear country, we hope you’re smart enough to come prepared and that you know how to stay alert and aware of serious wildlife. If you do try to punch a bear, let us know how it goes (if there’s anything left of you).