Misconceptions are not facts, which can breed unnecessary fear and panic. Take the case of black bear sightings. People panic, but in reality, shouldn't necessarily be afraid.
Black bears are not generally dangerous to humans, but that doesn't mean I'm going to send my kids out to go play with them, either! Their staple foods are basically vegetation, nuts, berries, grubs, and salmon, but occasionally will feast on small animals. Attacks on humans are extremely rare.
Habitat destruction is the main reason we see them in our neighborhoods. Highways, malls, new housing developments, etc, have made them more visible in our towns and even cities.
Black bears aren't prolific breeders like rabbits. Females are about four or five years old before they are ready to start a family, and once they give birth, spend a few years raising them. During this time, they do not produce any more young. There are more sitings of bears not because there are so many more of them, but rather that they are more accustomed to humans and have less space to spend in the wild.
Years ago, a friend told us of a friend of his that encountered a black bear in the woods. The man was afraid he couldn't out run it, so decided to "play dead". The concerned bear cautiously approached and gently shook him, apparently trying to revive him. When the bear began making soft, sad sounds, he decided to play along and slowly "woke up". Our friend told us that the two began to playfully pat each other! Obviously, the man lived to tell about it--over and over again!
Bears are also easily scared. A neighbor told us of the time one was spotted by their back door. The husband opened the door and quietly said, "Boo". They were amazed--and amused--that this was enough to send the bear scampering off!
Simply put, bears that are afraid of being attacked may themselves attack. Experts advise people to speak softly to identify yourself, and slowly back away. This will let the bear know you mean them no harm.
Those that growl or otherwise try to scare people off often are doing so to protect their cubs, or have found food they don't want to leave.
We need to be informed. For more facts on bears, check out these sites: