Bears are a non-elemental danger in sandbox mode. They wander around in Pleasant Valley, seeming to stay near areas with caves. They are also seen in Coastal Highway, wandering along the logging routes, the highway, and even on the lake. Unlike wolf encounters, bear encounters do not display as a combat situation (with a fight meter on the bottom, and defensive weapon shown in the bottom left corner), making it impossible to fight off a bear. Also unlike wolves, it is undocumented whether bears actively hunt other animals, or even feed off of carcasses.
Bears can easily be outrun if you start running before they get too close, but once they are on you, it is extremely hard to survive. Play dead (stop clicking) and you might survive, barely.
It has been observed that (in Alpha v3.04), bears are unable to enter Fishing Cabins like those found on the frozen inlet in Coastal Highway. A possible strategy to exploit this is to either shoot a bear out in the open, and retreat to the cabin, or wait for the bear to approach the cabin. The latter has the benefits of offering clear shots of the bear's head and chest cavity, as well as keeping Wolves away.
It takes several bullets to kill one, and the most efficient way is to shoot it 2-3 (max. 5) times and run while it bleeds out.
Unlike wolves, bears will attack if harrassed, even on Pilgrim difficulty.
Bears can be skinned for: