According to the National Wildlife Federation, the brown bear, often known as the grizzly bear, is the fastest of the eight bear species, reaching speeds of up to 35 mph because to its amazingly strong forelegs. The world’s most prevalent bear species, the American black bear, is somewhat quicker than the grizzly.
Naturally, a bear could only pull off such an accomplishment when it was at the height of its agility — not right after emerging from hibernation, having dropped 15% to 30% of its total weight — and only on specific soft, flat surfaces that its long claws could sink into.
In any event, despite their bulky build, bears are very quick. Learn the attributes and characteristics that enable them to move so quickly as well as what to do (other than flee) if you come across one in the wild.
Can You Outrun a Bear?
Even Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man, could not outrun a determined black or grizzly bear moving at its full pace. During a race in Berlin in 2009, the well-known Jamaican sprinter set a record for the fastest human foot speed ever recorded.
He was recorded traveling at an astounding 27.8 mph, which is more than 10 mph faster than the sprint speed of the typical person and roughly 4 mph faster than his usual pace. However, that is still 7 mph slower than the alleged peak speed of a grizzly bear and less than 2 mph than a black bear.
With his record speed, Bolt could be able to outrun a plodding polar bear, an Asiatic black bear (moon bear), which has a peak speed of 25 mph, or a sloth bear or panda, which is said to have a 20 mph top speed.
However, the line graphs that depict his lightning-quick sprints show that, like any human, he can only maintain his top speed for one to two seconds.
But according to multiple records from the 1930s in Yellowstone National Park, a bear can maintain speeds of 25 to 28 miles per hour for 2 miles (some of the only data on bear speed available to this day).
The normal person just wouldn’t have a chance when moving at a relatively slow 15 mph. The good news is that most animals, including bears, prefer to avoid people rather than attack them. They typically only fight people in order to defend their food, cubs, and territory.
Why Bears Can Run So Fast
Bears consume both vegetation and animals since they are omnivores. The percentage of plants in their diet varies according on breed, from 60% to 90%. They also need meat, so they have to be quick and shrewd to capture it.
Fish, rodents, and hooved mammals including moose, elk, caribou, and deer are the usual prey items for bears. As they are slower and more fragile, they are especially effective against young and wounded animals.
Bears may appear fluffy and chubby, but they actually have some pretty amazing muscles hidden behind all that fur. They unexpectedly resemble a human bodybuilder without the skin.
These muscles grow as a result of a lifetime of hunting and prowling through the forests. A bear’s claws also make them exceptionally adept at climbing trees and getting grip on rocky terrain.
Can a Dog Outrun a Bear?
Even if we haven’t witnessed the two compete, it is reasonable to conclude that a lot of popular dog breeds cannot outrun a bear. Out of the 195 dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club, roughly 10 distinct breeds can run at speeds more than 35 mph. Therefore, between 3 and 5% of breeds worldwide are capable of outrunning bears.
Based on maximum speeds, a greyhound (45 mph), saluki (45 mph), jack russell terrier (38 mph), dalmatian (37 mph), and weimaraner are a few canines that would be able to outrun a bear (35 mph).
To find out if your dog is one of the top 30 incredibly quick dog breeds, see Parade’s complete list.
This naturally raises the question, “Are you faster than your dog?”
Bears Have Very Large Muscles
Bears’ large muscles allow them to sprint at such high speeds. Because of their strong muscles and great aerobic capacity, they can run faster than the majority of animals.
Animals are often either long-distance runners or quick sprinters.
Cheetahs are an illustration of the first. They can run for only a few hundred feet, despite having the fastest running speed of any mammals.
Wolves, who are better adapted for running farther distances, are an example of the latter. At a slow pace, wolves may travel up to 30 to 40 miles per day.
How their muscles are constructed will determine whether they have anaerobic or aerobic capability (long, slow run) (fast, short runs). Bears’ muscles are capable of both since they can sprint quickly and go farther (though not as far as wolves).
Among land animals, bears have some of the strongest muscles. To support their weight, they are required.
Types of Bear and Their Speed
Other bear species and their top speeds are listed below:
Alaska’s Kodiak Archipelago is home to native Kodiak bears. A Kodiak bear is capable of running for a short distance at 40 mph if they sense danger, in addition to reaching speeds of up to 25 mph.
The Grizzly bear lives in the rest of the United States. These bears are the quickest because they can travel short distances at speeds of 35 mph. Grizzly bears, like their Kodiak bear cousins, may reach speeds of up to 40 mph in hazardous situations.
American black bears are capable of traveling between 25 and 30 mph.
Polar bears are enormous. They are slower than other bears and can only weigh up to 1,500 pounds. Even though it moves a little more slowly than other bears, a polar bear is nevertheless rather quick. They can go at a peak speed of 25 mph even on ice.
How Fast Can a Sloth Bear Run?
One of the slower bear species is the sloth bear. Since they are lethargic creatures, they lack the capacity for rapid running, much like sloths.
They are easy prey for other predators in the wild since they can only run up to 20 mph.
They may not be faster than their adversaries, but their strong jaws and cutting claws more than make up for it. Additionally skilled climbers, sloth bears frequently use trees to evade capture or ambush food.
How Fast Are Kodiak Bears?
As the name indicates, the Kodiak archipelago in Alaska is home to kodiak bears.
This bear can run across a 2-mile distance at a pace of 25 mph.
However, they have the ability to run a short distance at 40 mph if they feel threatened. That is zebra-like quick!
How Fast Can a Panda Bear Run?
The world’s slowest bears are pandas. Even though they can only run up to 20 mph on average, pandas can still move rather quickly.
They use their speed to avoid predators in the wild. The fact that panda bears aren’t hunters may be one reason why they move more slowly than other bears. Pandas only consume plants since they are herbivores.
How Quickly Can Black Bears Run?
Lean black bears can sprint over level, hilly, or muddy terrain and may travel at speeds up to 25 mph. They are easily hot and exhausted in the winter.
How Fast Can a Spectacled Bear Run?
Spectacled bears are among the quickest bears, with a top speed of 30 mph. They traverse great distances in search of food and escape from predators by moving quickly.
The thick layer of fur on spectacled bears shields them from the elements and predators. They can climb trees and dig for food because to their strong claws.
How Fast Are Polar Bears?
I should also mention the polar bear at this point. There is a chance that you could run across them if you ever visit Alaska, the only US state where they can be observed.
Like their Kodiak counterparts, polar bears are enormous. They have a 1,500-pound weight limit.
You may conclude from this that they are less swift than other Ursidae family members. And you would be right. The polar bear, albeit a little slower than the other bears we discussed, is still rather quick. Even on ice, they can sprint up to 25 mph! That certainly shows expertise.
How Fast Can a Grizzly Bear Run?
Grizzly bears can run at high speeds of 35 to 40 mph, making them the fastest members of the Ursidae family. Although they are unable to sustain their peak speed for very long, they are incredibly effective predators due to their ability to sprint quickly and maintain high speeds.
On a bear’s speed, not much study has been done. As you may expect, it would be challenging to set up the optimal experiment to measure their speed. The two separate incidents in Yellowstone National Park in the 1930s are where most references to a bear’s speed originate.
Both of these incidents took place right after the roads had been cleared of snow. Two park staff once stumbled upon a sow and her cubs in the middle of the road.
The park staff followed the bears for two miles at a safe distance once they spotted the automobile and began to move down the road. Using the speedometer on their automobile, they measured their speed and found that they had been moving along at a constant 25 mph for two miles.
Another sighting was Ranger Cliff Anderson and his family coming across a sow with her two pups feasting on a roadside corpse. The female grizzly rushed the two other automobiles that were driving toward the ranger and the animals. The swine eventually pursued the automobile for two kilometers, reaching a high speed of 28 mph.
Therefore, grizzlies are capable of both quick sprints and sustained high speeds over considerable distances. Read the entire account of the experiences in Yellowstone here.
Long Claws Help Bears Gain Traction
Bears may have claws that are over four inches long and are rather massive. They may gain more grip when sprinting thanks to their long claws, which has an impact on their running speed.
Their claws successfully aid in improving their hold on the ground, preventing slipping and wasting energy.
How Fast Are Bears Compared to Humans?
Bears move far more quickly than people. Despite being incredibly huge and weighing more than 1,000 pounds, they have a top speed of 25–35 mph (depending on the species).
The evidence suggests that bears move significantly more quickly than humans, who typically peak out at roughly 20 mph (though the fastest man alive has run at a pace of 27 mph).
This is probably because a bear’s muscle mass is different from its body mass; a bear’s muscular strength and stride length can achieve higher speeds more readily than those of a person.
Is Usain Bolt Faster Than A Bear?
Even Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest runner and holder of several sprinting sports world records, cannot outrun a resolute grizzly or black bear at a high rate of speed.
Even though he broke the world record for sprinting 100 and 200 meters in the quickest time conceivable, unless he is racing away from a polar bear, he cannot outrun a bear at a pace of 27.8 mph (44.72 km/h).
What to Do if You See a Bear
First, you may try to prevent bear encounters in the woods by consistently making noise while hiking and being careful about adequate food storage to prevent luring these largely harmless animals to your campsite. Knowing which bears frequent the region and how to recognize them is important since various bear species will call for various responses.
For instance, you should make eye contact, make yourself huge by extending your arms, and make noise if you come across a black bear, which is the most prevalent in the U.S. and can be identified by its straight-faced profile and tall, pointed ears.
On the other hand, it is not advised to make eye contact with a brown bear, which may be identified by its dished profile and noticeable shoulder hump. Avoid screaming, yelling, or making any other ominous noises. Return gently, if you can, facing the bear.
If you know you’ll be in an area frequented by grizzlies, it’s important to have bear spray with you. No matter what kind of bear you encounter, never turn away from it and never run away from it since they will pursue you due to their predatory nature.
Can Bear Run Downhill?
Bears can indeed run downhill. The rumor that bears cannot sprint downhill is just that—a rumor. Never attempt to sprint downhill while being pursued by a bear since doing so would simply make them catch you more quickly.
Bears have a low center of gravity, which makes them stable when sprinting. They can run downhill even though they are huge and have very short legs.
They can chase after prey or flee from danger thanks to their speed downhill. They have an edge over their prey or opponents since they can cover a lot of land rapidly.
Bears are extremely strong, nimble, and quick. The Ursidae family’s slowest runners are the kodiak and polar bears, which move at a 25 mph average. Grizzly bears top the list with a 35 mph peak speed, followed by black bears at 30 mph. Even the most athletic person on earth cannot keep up with them due to their speed.
If you come across a bear while trekking, never run from it. Keep your cool and identify yourself as a person. Be sure to equip yourself with bear pepper spray as well.