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Thread: Can Bears see in color?

  1. #1
    Member Nukalpiaq's Avatar
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    Aug 2007
    Southwest Alaska

    Default Can Bears see in color?

    Just wondering if bears can see in color? what about other Alaskan big game species like moose, caribou, dall sheep, mtn goat, elk, bison, etc.? Thanks

  2. #2
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    Jun 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by Nukalpiaq View Post
    Just wondering if bears can see in color? what about other Alaskan big game species like moose, caribou, dall sheep, mtn goat, elk, bison, etc.? Thanks
    It is my understanding that mammals (besides people) can't see in color.

  3. #3
    Member 8x57 Mauser's Avatar
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    May 2006
    Southeast Alaska


    A quick look over wikipedia and some cooperative extension pamphlets from other states says:

    Generally speaking, most primates have the same three color receptors we do: reds, blues, and greens.

    Marine mammals usually have only one - they really see in shades of light and dark, not color.

    The rest of the mammal world sees the blues and greens, but don't have receptors for the red part of the spectrum. Thus, hunter orange doesn't look any different to them than tree bark of the same saturation, both are either light gray or dark gray.

    Most birds have four color receptors, and they think parakeets may even have five.

    I'm no biologist, but that's what a quick glimpse reveals.

  4. #4
    Member sbiinc's Avatar
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    Jun 2006

    Default color

    hmmm not sure myself, but last year I did a stalk on a big black that looked straight at me a few times and got within 50yrds (just froze in place when he picked his head up to look) wearing blue jeans and no camo. the video is linked on this site somewhere under my user name.

    and i've done spot and stalks on a few other bears resonably close with not much care except to being careful of noise and wind. I used to low crawl and try to be super sneaky but don't think it matters much long as they don't smell, hear, or look at you while your moving.

  5. #5
    Member Jeff Shannon's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Fairbanks, Alaska


    It's not likely that we'll ever know what animals can or can't see, because the majority of the sense of sight is how the brain processes the light gathered by the eyes. It's fairly easy to determine if an animals eyes are capable of picking up certain colors by analyzing the rod and cone cells, but it's a totally different matter when it comes to how their brains process those wavelengths of light that their eyes can gather. It's kind of like how my wife always gives me crap for being color-blind. I'm not actually color-blind, I just don't recognize colors like she does. The way our brains process the colors we see is completely different even though my eyes are capable of seeing them just like hers. I think it has been pretty well established that most animals are tuned in to seeing movement more so than they are to seeing colors so controlling your movements is much more important than the color of camo you wear. I think it's also been established that many big game animals can see into the UV spectrum of light beyond what humans can see, so it's a good idea to not wash your hunting clothes in detergents that have UV brighteners.

  6. #6


    It's kind of like how my wife always gives me crap for being color-blind
    Females typically have more cones, the color receptors. Male usually have more rods, light receptors. Your wife may see more of the color spectrum but the odd are you will see better in the dark.

    I digress I can't prove it but I think bears see most of the color spectrum humans do however they only see in two dimensions I think that is why if you sit still they have a hard time picking you out of the background.

  7. #7
    Member Bighorse's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Ketchikan, Alaska

    Default Berrry Bears

    Well its my understanding that berries often have their bright colors to attact bears and other creatures into eating them thereby reproducing.

    The plants think they can see in color. So should we?

    Food for thought.

  8. #8

    Default Bear vision

    I cannot say if they see color. However, I think that they have poor vision. I've had bears smell me and know that I'm around somewhere and look for me without finding me. One angry bear squinted and stared at me from 25 feet and kept looking.


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