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My Wildlife in Montana: Running with the Bears

Updated on July 23, 2012

Life in Montana #1: Encountering Bears During Your Morning Jog

Mama and Baby Bear by a neighbor's deck.
Mama and Baby Bear by a neighbor's deck.

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.

Jr. is getting pretty big.  This will be his last spring with Mama.
Jr. is getting pretty big. This will be his last spring with Mama.

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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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    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 6 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Great hub. Having read recently Sid Marty's 'The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek', I don't think I will appreciate meeting one in the wild. In any case, there are none in Ontario. On the other hand, bears are truly the most lovable of omnivores.

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image

      Mrs. Menagerie 6 years ago from The Zoo

      Hi Troyangeluk! Thanks for reading and how are things over there?

    • Troyangeluk profile image

      Troyangeluk 6 years ago from UK

      This is amazing don't get anything like that here in the UK, this was very interesting to read thanks for sharing :)

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image

      Mrs. Menagerie 6 years ago from The Zoo

      Thank you for your kind comment Cassidella!

    • Cassidella profile image

      Cassidella 6 years ago

      Really enjoyed your hub about the encounter with black bears. Whoa! That could prove to be a heart-stopping experience for some! It sounds like you live in a place that has lots of natural beauty and wildlife. What a treasure!

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image

      Mrs. Menagerie 6 years ago from The Zoo

      Haha! Thanks Teylina, I love your comment and thanks for reading!

    • Teylina profile image

      Teylina 6 years ago

      Hey, Lucky Cats, I'm w/you lady! Great info & beautiful photos she used! Mrs. Menagerie, I loved learning about Karelian Bear Dogs, and I almost laughed out loud at your honesty on not seeing if you were being followed as in: "(not that we had a plan if we had)" or "better said than done"--couldn't have been said in a better place! Not sure what I'd do! Heart attack might be a good place to start!

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image

      Mrs. Menagerie 6 years ago from The Zoo

      dahoglund, you have good instincts!

      Mary Ann, they are adorable looking but you are right, deceivingly so.

      Hi Lucky great to hear from you again. And thank you!

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Great hub packed with information as well as beautiful photographs. Very nice! Thank you! UP & USEFUL & AWESOME

    • profile image

      THAT Mary Ann 6 years ago

      I have never seen a bear outside of films, and I always have such a hard time believing they are deadly, but I understand that their kind of lazy gait and teddy-bear image is just a disguise. I would probably have had a heart attack had I happened upon them as you did!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Don't think I have ever seen a bear outside of a zoo.If I ran across one, feeding it would be pretty far from my mind.