My Wildlife in Montana: Running with the Bears
Life in Montana #1: Encountering Bears During Your Morning Jog
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Encountering Bears During Your Morning Jog
This morning, while jogging with two friends and four dogs, I unsuspectingly had a close encounter with two black bears: mother and cub. We humans were first tipped-off by the dogs. They stopped suddenly, went rigid, and started growling; all four were looking in the same direction. (Two of the dogs with us were Karelian Bear Dogs and they know better than to run off after the bears or, worse, chase them toward us.) Sure enough, there was a big black bear and a moment later we saw her cub. We did an immediate about-face, heading back the way we had come.
Now, bear encounters are not all that rare in our neighborhood, but it was still enough to get our heart rates up. There was a lot of looking over the shoulder to make sure we weren't being followed (not that we had a plan if we had been.) We ske-daddled just as fast as we could without breaking into a full run. The usual advice is to not run when encountering bears; it sends a message to the bear that you are the prey. I will say that walking calmly away from a protective mother bear is one of those "easier said than done" things.
As soon as I got back home, I grabbed my camera and jumped into the car, bent on getting a photo. I was lucky; they were still there when I arrived and I was able to get a few shots.
Read About Black Bears
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Never, Ever Feed a Bear!
Wildlife in Montana includes bears, moose, elk, wolves, coyotes, Bighorn sheep, deer, and more; most of these animals are most active early in the morning and late in the evening. That said, it may not be the most brilliant idea for us humans to plan our jogs in the early morning. Ah, well.
Another ridiculous thing we humans do (if you don't mind my saying) is to feed the bears . Never, ever feed bears. This is the absolute most stupid human behavior going. Feeding a bear, even once, will keep it coming back for years.
This includes the intentional "bait" feeding that is usually the tourists' folly. The thought process goes something like this...
"...if I put this big juicy steak out here on the deck of this vacation home, I may get some fantastic photos to show my friends back home."
Little do they know, the next people to rent the same vacation home (I hope they don't have little kids) will get an unexpected, hungry visitor.
But the tourists aren't the only blockheads, us locals are just as guilty of feeding bears by leaving out tasty things like dog food, trash, birdseed, and dirty barbecue grills. This may not be intentional, but the result is just the same. The next thing you know, you've got a "problem bear" on your hands and there is no happy ending after that. Either someone will get hurt or the bear will be shot. Sad but true.
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