How dangerous are bears?

black bear
   Bears are adapted to catch prey and eat meat. Even species that now eat mainly plants still have sharp teeth, claws, and powerful muscles. They do not normally prey on humans, and they try to avoid people as much as possible. But when cornered, or surprised at close range, bears can attack and even kill people. Mothers with cubs and bears defending a meal can be the most dangerous.
   If you choose to camp or hike in an area where bears are known to live, there are several basic steps you can take to minimize the chances of a dangerous encounter. If you are hiking, travel in a group and talk, sing, or make other noises so any bears nearby will hear you coming and have time to move away. Keep to open areas where bears could see you from a distance. Stay away from sources of bear food, such as berries or carrion (dead animals). If you happen to see a bear in the distance, do not approach it; keep as much space between you and the bear as possible. When camping, store all food and toilet articles in sealed plastic bags and hang them 15 feet (4.5 meters) above the ground.