5 THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER DO WHEN ENCOUNTERING A BLACK BEAR IN THE WILD!
OMG, IT'S A BEAR!
You are walking with your family in the woods. You are happily chit-chatting, enjoying nature, when suddenly...up ahead...THERE'S A BLACK BEAR! And it SEES you...it's staring RIGHT AT YOU...no chance of sneaking away before you are detected.
NOW...WHAT DO YOU DO?
Granted, this is a BLACK bear...not a GRIZZLY...but remember...ANY bear encounter has the potential to be DANGEROUS.
True - most black bears do NOT want anything to do with you. HOWEVER...the number ONE law of bears: THEY ARE UNPREDICTABLE!
Bears and humans never make a good mix...because you just never know when a bear will feel threatened by your presence (a mother bear with cubs almost ALWAYS will) and what that bear might do.
Simply startling a bear can make it feel threatened, which is why it's always a good idea to make as much noise as possible when walking in "bear territory."
Rarely, a black bear may launch a predatory attack. No, this does not happen often...but it CAN happen. (Check out covebear.com - bear attacks). Since 2000, there have been 32 DOCUMENTED fatalities from black bears.
Some more tips to bear in mind (yes, clever pun!) while hiking in bear territory: do NOT chew gum or bring snacks with you - including flavored drinks. Bring PLAIN BOTTLED WATER, ONLY...I have also read (ladies!) that you should not wear perfume.
Wear a "bear whistle" - bring "bear deterrent in a can" - and hopefully, a human/bear encounter will NOT occur.
However, if it DOES, here are FIVE THINGS you should NEVER do!
1). NEVER TURN YOUR BACK ON THE BEAR!
This may be your FIRST instinct...do NOT give in to it! The bear will perceive this as WEAKNESS on your part. Understandably, you want to put some distance between you and the bear. You can back up SLOWLY (no sudden movements!) keeping your eye on the bear.
2). NEVER RUN AWAY OR BOTHER TRYING TO CLIMB A TREE!
A black bear can run 30 m.p.h....it will OUTRUN you, every time. Besides, running will PROVOKE THE BEAR'S PREDATORY INSTINCTS! Your inner voice of panic may be shouting, RUN! RUN! But don't listen!
3). NEVER THROW SOMETHING AT THE BEAR!
The bear will see this as a direct threat - and he probably feels threatened enough, already. Do not ANGER him..this is really just common sense. If angered, he may feel obligated to assert his dominance. You don't want him to feel this way!
4). NEVER PLAY DEAD!
There was a time when the words of wisdom were: If a black bear is coming after you, play dead! ATTENTION: THESE WORDS OF WISDOM ARE NO LONGER WISE...UNLESS (AND THIS IS IMPORTANT)THE BEAR IN QUESTION IS A GRIZZLY - NOT A BLACK BEAR!
Playing dead with an angry grizzly bear - rolling up into a ball while protecting your vital parts - is still the way to go. However...not so with an angry black bear.
NEVER show fear to a black bear...never display weakness.
If it gets to the point where the bear is ACTUALLY ATTACKING YOU (something we are trying to avoid in this article...)the NEWEST words of wisdom are FIGHT BACK!
If you have some sort of "bear deterrent" in a can, by all means, USE IT!
Hopefully, the situation won't escalate to this dire level. The most important thing to remember when you have encountered a black bear in the woods (along with not needlessly angering the bear) is DO NOT SHOW FEAR!
Make yourself look as big as possible.
Put your hands over your head. Clap. Speak AUTHORITATIVELY to the bear. Shout,"GO AWAY!"
Do NOT show weakness...do NOT show fear...do NOT drop down and play dead! That's old school thinking, and it's wrong- unless the bear is a grizzly . (If it's a Polar bear...hey, you're on your own)!
5). NEVER THINK OF A BLACK BEAR ENCOUNTER AS A "FUN PHOTO OP"!
You wouldn't believe the silly, outright DUMB things some people do when confronted with a bear. They will shout, "I GOTTA GET A PICTURE OF THIS FOR MY FACEBOOK PAGE!" Then they'll whip out a granola bar, and try to get as close to the bear as possible, instructing their friend to TAKE A PIC!
ATTENTION: THIS IS NOT A BIG CUDDLY STUFFED TEDDY BEAR!
A bear is a very large, unpredictable, potentially DANGEROUS wild animal. You are in HIS territory. Act appropriately. Take it seriously. The bear doesn't care about Facebook. He will just see your actions as being confrontational. He will try to assert his dominance. Now THAT is a picture you definitely DON'T want to put on your Facebook page, or anywhere!
I'm not trying to scare people out of the woods, or attempting to make everyone hate bears. Rather, I believe you should RESPECT bears; be prepared; remain alert; and understand the potential for danger that exits...be smart...and most of all, STAY SAFE!