If you believe that bears are grossly overweight and not athletic, challenge a bear and try to outrun it. This is not advisable and we do not recommend such behavior. Their appearance is rather hefty with a boxy frame, flat feet, and a thick layer of fur creating the impression that they are slow.
During summer months bears can easily outsprint the fastest horse over 100 yards and maintain a reasonable speed for 2 miles or more.
So, how fast are bears?
Bears can run between 25 and 35 miles per hour for short distances and maintain a speed of between 25 and 28 miles per hour for quite a while. Most observations by humans have been able to follow bears for up to 2 miles hence the statement above stating that they can maintain the speed for 2 miles or more.
This can only be done when a bear is at peak fitness after recovering from the hibernation period during winter. Bears can lose as much as 15% to 30% of their body weight during hibernation.
Most of the bears’ running is done on smooth soft surfaces but they will struggle to maintain their speed on hard and uneven surfaces. This is due to their claws growing up to four inches long thus assisting them to find their footing on soft surfaces.
This is achieved through the strong back legs to support most of its weight.
How Fast Are Bears
How Fast Are Grizzly Bears
Grizzly bears are the largest and fastest bears in the world and can reach a top speed of 35 to 40 miles per hour over short distances. This is faster than most horses.
The rapid acceleration makes grizzly bears an exceptionally effective predator.
How Fast Are Black Bears
Black bears, America’s most prevalent bear species, are slightly slower than grizzlies with a top speed of approximately 30 miles per hour.
How Fast Are Brown Bears
Brown bears are also known as grizzly bears therefore they can accelerate up to 40 miles per hour over short distances and maintain a speed of between 25 and 28 miles per hour for an extended period.
The National Wildlife Federation says that brown bears can achieve these speeds on uphills, level ground, and downhill.
Can A Human Outrun A Bear?
No, humans cannot outrun bears, not even over short distances.
The fastest human to date is Usain Bolt with an average speed of over 100m around 23.35 miles per hour with a maximum speed of 27.79 miles per hour over a 60-80m stretch.
Comparing this to what a bear is able to do over short distances highlights the inability of humans to outsprint a bear that can reach up to 35 miles per hour and maintain a speed of 25 to 28 miles per hour for an extended period.
Should you try and outrun a bear you would probably enrage the bear thus making it more aggressive and angry.
Not even a cyclist in peak condition, on the best bike, with the natural ability of a time trial champion, will be able to stay ahead of a bear for long.
Can Bears Run Downhill
There is a myth that bears cannot run downhill. However, the truth is that bears can run uphill, downhill, and on even terrain. The speed that they achieve on downhills or uphills is still faster than any human.
What to Do During a Bear Attack
Although incredibly rare, bear attacks do happen. Generally, they are only interested in protecting their cubs, territory, or food. It can be helpful to know what to do, should you encounter a bear and yes it’s different for different types of bears.
Black bears are the most common in the USA so let’s start there. If you are attacked by a black bear it is very important to NOT play dead. You should try to escape to safer place and if you cannot then you should try to fight the bear.
For brown bears and grizzly bears you SHOULD play dead. If you can, lay flat on your stomach, spread your legs apart and put your hands over your neck. The idea is to make it difficult for the bear to turn you over. Stay as still as possible and hope that the bear loses interest and leaves the area. If you do happen to fight back then this can make this worse. However, if it’s too late to play dead and the bear is already very aggressive then you should try to fight back.
Bears are deceptively quick and could be dangerous if you are not careful.
With speeds up to 40 miles per hour for short sprints and up to 28 miles per hour for 2 miles or more, they will outrun any human being or cyclist. This only applies after they have recovered from winter hibernation.
A myth that bears can’t run downhill has been proven to be incorrect. Bears can maintain their speed whether uphill, downhill, or on an even piece of ground.
However, bears will struggle to maintain their top speed on uneven and hard surfaces.
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