Black Bears

Black bear sow and cub walk through grassy area

For centuries black bears (Ursus americanus) have made Lassen Volcanic National Park their home. Their movements are dictated by ancient connections to the seasons, food sources, and their own inclinations. Bears are curious, intelligent, and potentially dangerous animals.

Lassen is home to about 30 black bears. Despite what their name implies, black bear fur can vary from blonde to black in color. These adaptable animals live in the park year-round, however they enter torpora short-term form of hibernationin the snowy winter months. Grizzly/brown bears (Ursus arctos) are not found in the park.


Be Bear Aware

Your actions protect yourself and protect park wildlife. The following actions can help maintain black bears' natural wariness of humans and prevent negative human-bear encounters.

  • Store food and scented items when not in use to avoid attracting bears when picnicking, camping, hiking, and picnicking.
  • Keep at least 300 feet (100 yards) from black bears; never get closer intentionally or attempt to feed it.
  • Make noise to scare away a bear that approaches you or your campsite.
  • Use pullouts to view bears near the road and stay in your vehicle.
  • Avoid potential bear encounters on the trail by making noise to make your presence known; be particularly careful near streams, and when vegetation or terrain limits visibility.
  • Please note that bear spray is not allowed in Lassen Volcanic National Park. See information on what to do if you see or are charged by a bear below.

Bears and Food Storage: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear

Odors attract bears to picnic areas, campgrounds, and backcountry campsites. Allowing a bear to obtain human foodeven once
often results in aggressive behavior, which be cause for a bear's destruction. Help keep bears wild and alive by following a few guidelines:

  • Properly store all scented items such as food, garbage, food containers (empty and full), cookware (clean or dirty), toiletries, sunscreen, and bug repellent.

  • Secure scented items in bear-resistant food lockers, inside a hard-sided vehicle with the windows rolled up, or inside the trunk.

  • Only have food out that you are actually using; keep items you are not using properly stored.

  • Never store food, garbage, or toiletries in tents or sleeping bags.

  • Place all trash in bear-resistant trash or recycle receptacles.

  • Never leave your pack unattended. Keep your pack within arms reach at all time.
  • Use an approved, bear-resistant container when camping in the backcountry (outside of developed campgrounds).
  • Immediately report violations and all bear sightings to a park ranger or email

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Find out how you can keep your food secure and bears safe when you visit Lassen Volcanic National Park.


If You Encounter a Bear

Bears are territorial. If you surprise a bear at close range (less than 300 feet), you may be intruding into it space. Most bear encounters end without injury, especially if you follow some basic guidelines and remember that your safety depends on your ability to calm the bear:

  • Do not run! Bears can easily outrun you. Running may cause an otherwise non-aggressive bear to attack.

  • If the bear is aware of you but has not acted aggressively, slowly back away.

  • If the bear is unaware of you, keep out of sight and detour behind or downwind of the bear.

  • Stay calm and remember that most bears do not want to attack you, they usually just want to be left alone.

  • Pick up small children immediately and stay in a group.

  • Do not drop your pack! This teaches the bears how to obtain human food and often results in the death of a bear.

  • Do not climb a tree. All black bears can climb trees.


If a Bear Approaches or Charges You

Do not run! Most bear attacks result from surprise encounters when the bear is defending their young or a food source, such as a carcass.

  • Stand still until the bear stops and then slowly backing away.
  • Stay calm. Bears may bluff their way out of an encounter by charging and then turn away at the last second. Bears may also act defensively by woofing, growling, snapping their jaws, or laying their ears back.
  • If you are attacked, do not play dead–fight back. Concentrate your kicks and blows on the bear's face and muzzle.

Last updated: July 17, 2020

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PO Box 100
Mineral, CA 96063


(530) 595-4480

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