Bear Naturalist Guide
Certification Manual
Index of  Bear  Webpages
Bear Viewing Association
To watch, to wonder, and to conserve
gobearviewing@hotmail.com
Ph/Fax (907) 260-9059 (Office)
39200 Alma Ave.    Soldotna, AK  99669
bear viewing Alaska, bear photography, bear safety, bear behavior



Answers to questions commonly asked by wildlife viewers on the topics listed below:
Bear Viewing Association
To watch, to wonder, and to conserve
gobearviewing@hotmail.com
Ph/Fax (907) 260-9059 (Office)
39200 Alma Ave.    Soldotna, AK  99669
bear viewing Alaska, bear photography, bear safety, bear behavior
Body Language
1
   2    3    4
OTHER MOODS & MOTIVES

So far, I have focused on signs of aggression because aggression is what concerns most people.  However, if all you think
about is aggression, you are likely to read aggression into even completely innocuous behavior.  For some facets of
aggressive behavior also show up in curiosity, playfulness or simply walking or foraging, as pointed out below with the head-
low posture (
Figure 3).  Misreading a bear and responding inappropriately can turn an otherwise perfectly safe encounter
into something very dangerous.  To help you guard against such errors, Table 1 lists numerous postures, gestures and
sounds, then shows various motivations in which each is displayed.  A much more detailed presentation will soon be
available in
The Language of Bears.

Head-Low Threat: Standing or walking with its head low – i.e., with its neck (from shoulder to head) steeper than 30
degrees below horizontal, and its face steeper than 45 degrees below horizontal (Figure 2.2 rows 2 & 3). This often
accompanies a “stiff-armed walk” with elbows locked and bowed out slightly.  Its ears may be flattened against its skull and
its face seemingly elongated by sucking the cheeks inwards and belling the upper lip forward (Figure 2.3a).  Hence the
term “long face” threat.  

Obviously, a bear’s head is also close to the ground while it is foraging or sniffing.  However, you wouldn’t be likely to
mistake these behaviors for a threat even if you couldn’t see the bear eating or sniffing.  One difference is that the
movements of a threatening bear tend to be stiffer and either exceptionally slow and deliberate or abrupt, whereas those of
a grazing bear are more relaxed and fluid; also, its head and neck will bob up and down as it bites off food.
Body Language  3
Body Language
1    2    3    4
(c) 2016 S. Stringham