Bear Behavior & Communication


Do Black Bears Growl?

Bear Center researchers are still waiting to find out. In over 40 years of capturing, observing, and confronting bears—and seeing the occasional fight—they have yet to hear their first growl….

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Scared Cubs and Crying Babies Sound Alike

Black bear cubs and human babies can sound enough alike to confuse both species. Bear cub crying On August 7, 1990, a scared cub sounded so much like a person…

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How Dangerous Are Bluff Charges?

Stories of bears rushing at people are rare but do happen. These are bears that make the news. They are the unusually aggressive bears that create stories of narrow escapes….

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The Black Bears’ Voice

Black bears not only communicate with grunts, tongue-clicks, and blowing. They have a resonant voice. It is not the barking, growling voice of a dog and is seldom the shrill…

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Harmless Bluster

Bear Center researchers see bluster when bears are nervous and crowded but reluctant to leave because of cubs, food, or being cornered. The researchers usually give these bears space, out…

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Sociable Sounds

In the wild, bears make a plaintive sound when they want to make friendly contact, take food from a bear they know, or nurse. Mothers grunt when they approach their…

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Vocalizations and Body Language

The sounds of a young cub with its mother.  The cub is making the cooing sounds and the mother grunts, which is a common sound mothers make to cubs. Black…

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Cub Vocalizations – Mother Responses

Because bears are intelligent animals, much of their behavior is based on learning rather than instinct, so responses may vary. Vocalization Situation Mother’s Response Pulsating hum Nursing (or, rarely, when…

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