How Fast Can Black Bear Run

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It is not overtly clear how fast a black bear can run on different terrains. But on flat ground, it borders around speeds of 40kmph. That is much faster than the fastest recorded man on earth and the world record holder in 100m sprint, Usain Bolt can run. 

Using the world record speed, Usain Bolt can get to top speeds of only 27Mph. For better clarity, a black bear from a standpoint can outrun a racehorse over short distances as they can easily clock 35Mph. 

So how fast do Black Bears run?

In this article, you will find an in-depth review of why black bears are capable of such high speeds. Also discussed are other factors that make them fascinating animals. 

How Can Black Bear Run Fast Despite Their Weight?

There are only eight extant species of bear in the world. Among the eight, black bears are the smallest, yet they weigh between 40 to 250Kg. One thing that always astonishes most is the agility of the black bear despite its weight and sheer size. 

Among the eight extant families of bears, black bears are also the fastest. This means a black bear can easily outrun a man, a bike, or a car when driving through the woods. 

As a hostile animal coupled with enormous strength, agility, and speed black bears can be quite dangerous. There is a common misconception that bears are incapable of running fast because of their weight. 

There is this perception and a misplaced notion that people tend to have about bears. Because of their massive size, people assume they can outrun a bear running downhill. But if the bear is fast on flat ground it will still be fast downslope. Technically, if you are faster downhill so is the bear and this makes it even more dangerous.

Whenever anyone encounters a bear, running, is among the top reasons why a bear attacks and leads to fatal injuries or death especially if you consider the speed that the bear charges at you.

Male or Female Black Bears: Which are Most Aggressive?

Black bears are responsible for most human attacks in the United States. It is not clear which gender is the more aggressive as both female and male black bears attack humans for different reasons. 

Female bears are not as heavily built as their male counterparts but are aggressive when it comes to protecting their territories, especially if they have cubs. Male black bears are different, and because of their massive size, they see humans as a potential food source. Therefore, male black bears are more aggressive and pose a higher threat to humans than females.

How Do Black Bears Manage to Run Fast?

All people see when they look at a bear is a massive and fat animal. One might be deceived to think it is a slow animal especially based on a bear’s demeanor of slow approach. What people fail to see is the many muscles under the heavy fur coat and the layer of fat, capable of supporting the bears 250kgs weight.

It is a common sight to see a black bear towering while standing on its hind legs. When they want to intimidate their prey, they stand upright. Despite their weight, the hind legs can still support the bear comfortably hence this should paint a picture of just how strong the hind legs are.

It is because of the strong hind legs that a black bear can take off and run at such high speeds. Besides the black bear’s muscular strength, they have sharp claws in both the front and hind limbs to give them additional grip.

A close study of the morphological shape of bears resembles that of dogs and this is another reason why they can attain such high speeds easily.

Still, on the morphological shape, bears and most four-legged animals are faster than humans. The point here is that the two extra pairs of legs help four-legged animals generate more power.

How Long Can A Black Bear Keep Its Pace When Running?

As humans, we should understand that black bears are much faster, and perhaps an advantage may present itself in whether the bear can sustain its fast pace. Will it tire faster or keep up the pace?

There is no tested observation, but biologists have reported cases of black bears covering long distances at high speeds. We cannot generalize how fast black bears will run at a full pace. However, there are cases of scientists who had observed a black bear run a distance of over 2 miles at high speeds of 24 – 29Kmph. There are also reports of black bears covering the distance at speeds 30Kmph for over a quarter-mile.

In both cases, the reason the black bears stopped running was not shortness of breath, and, therefore, it is not clear how long a black bear can maintain its high pace when on a chase.

Regardless, it should not matter how fast or whether a black bear can maintain its pace. When in the woods, if you come across a black bear, you will not stand a chance by trying to outrun it. Perhaps if you have a 2-mile head start but this is not possible. 

From the many black bear run incidents, it is noticeable that the bears set their pace, and it is not clear how fast they can run if they are under pressure.

Can a Human Outrun a Black Bear in the Wild?

When black bears start to run from a standstill point, they tend to hurl themselves with unimaginable speeds to approach its rival. It leaves no room for doubt that these seemingly slow creatures are deceptively fast. 

Black bears are among the most powerful beasts in the woods and have an immeasurable endurance to cover many miles. It is stamina that can surprise and rival most horses.  

So, there is no way a human will ever outrun a black bear, and the reason is that they are more than twice as fast. Once you find yourself in the awareness zone of a black bear the best thing to do is never to run but using wits to evade the would-be confrontation. There is no advantage that a human has over a charging bear unless, of course, one is armed.

But still, without the proper shot placement, you risk wounding the animal that makes it even more dangerous. When hunting for black bears, you must understand its habit and how it relates to its habitat.  

For starters, always ensure that you are against the wind, and it will not detect your scent. Bears can detect the human scent from faraway hence sense your approach. Also, ensure that you understand the bear’s anatomy so that when hunting one you can aim for the vital organs.

When taking your shot, you can set a tree stand and wait for the black bear to come your way, or you can stalk it through the woods. The essential thing is to know that a black bear is not readily afraid of humans, and an encounter can be fatal. Always be ready to take a second shot if the first shot does not down the bear immediately.

It is a must that you have high caliber ammo to down your black bear fast and as humanely as possible. When using a bow and arrow, you must select the best head that has more penetration and less resistance.

What Other Activities Can a Black Bear Perform Impressively and Speedily against Their Weight? 

How Fast can a Black Bear Climb a Tree?

Another fascinating characteristic of Black bears is their ability to climb trees. They are not only agile animals on the ground but also when climbing trees. Black bears are known to climb trees that are over 100 feet high in less than half a minute. It is a very phenomenal feat considering the size and weight of the black bear. 

Therefore, when trying to outrun a black bear, it will not end well if you decide to climb a tree in a bid to escape its wrath. However, black bears can run faster than they can climb a tree. With their powerful limbs, black bears also have sharp and long claws that add to their grip on surfaces. When trying to outwit a bear, you have better chances standing your ground and waiting for the black bear to walk away calmly rather than turning your back and taking to your heels. 

Are Black Bears Fast Swimmers?

Besides being fast runners’ black bears are excellent swimmers and enjoy spending time in the water. They are also fast swimmers and that makes them dangerous animals on both the ground and water. Black bears swim effortlessly for many miles and do not have a natural predator both on land and water.

As a result, they are calm and unafraid when hunting fish in the waters. Fish form part of the black bear’s favorite diet that includes foraging as well. Black bear cubs are born with a natural swimming instinct, and so they get accustomed to water when they are still young.


Looks can sometimes be deceiving, and this is the first impression people have when they see a black bear. If you are yet to see one in real life, then know black bears are chubby, fat, and cute that most people find overwhelmingly irresistible. Black bear cubs are way cuter and seem like real-life teddy bears.

But don’t be deceived by cute looks, bears are carnivorous species and can sometimes be extremely strong and aggressive. With a simple swing of its paws, a bear can cut open human flesh leading to profuse bleeding and eventually death. 

If you are walking in the woods and you come face to face with a black bear, never attempt to outrun it as it is impossible if it decides to chase after you. However, you can walk prepared by carrying a binocular to scout the way ahead. When you spot one when it is still at a distance, take a slow step back and quietly abandon that trail. Pepper spray can act as a defense but it’s not reliable as it needs you to be closer to the black bear. In this case anything can go wrong and the results are fatal. 

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