Bears can make multiple sounds that include roars, grunts and purrs. Like most animals, bears use various noises to communicate among themselves and with other creatures.
The noises that a bear makes are usually used as a method of communicating within their species. Mother bears communicate with their cubs using grunts. Bears use their noises as a means of finding mates, socializing and defense. Bears also use body language to communicate. In fact, bears are more likely to use body and facial movements to get their message across. They will also communicate by marking trees with their scent. They rarely vocalize, although black bears tend to be more vocal than brown bears.
When a bear does vocalize, it is often an attempt to handle a tense situation. Bears will use the same vocalizations when interacting with humans as they do with each other. When a bear crosses paths with a human, their vocalizations are more likely a response to stress or fear rather than aggression or intimidation. Black bear noises vary in intensity, ranging from mild grunts to intense roars. At the lowest level, grunts and clicking of the tongue are used to communicate during play and other friendly situations. Chomping of the teeth is often misinterpreted as a threat when it is actually done out of fear. Bears also blow out air while exposing their teeth to communicate fear. If a black bear is blowing or chomping, it is likely preparing to retreat.