HomeOutdoorsNewsSaturdays are for the Bears: Bruin sightings from across America

Saturdays are for the Bears: Bruin sightings from across America

by Jon D. B.
Saturdays are for the Bears
American black bear portraits ( Dean Conger/Corbis via Getty Images, Ron Reznick/VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images) and screenshot of the piebald black bear (NativeDude1, TikTok)

From the blind celebrity outside a U.S. military base to a close encounter with a curious Minnesota bruin, Saturdays are for the bears.

We love bears. I know I do, and I’m assuming you do, too, or you wouldn’t be here. As the weather turns warm across North America, our bears are out in full force, so bruins are also everywhere at the moment, it seems.

Our American black bears, as widespread as they are, feel particularly active from a news standpoint. So why not hit the highlights? As a naturalist with a deep affinity for bears, I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday.

VIDEO: ‘Curious George’ the black bear gets up close and personal with a Minnesota driver

First up is Alexander Aman of Everlasting Ranch’s encounter with a most curious bear. Filming from the safety of his car and with his windows rolled up (both highly recommended), Aman wields his phone as the cinnamon-phase black bear meanders onto the highway.

Curious himself, Aman slows down to get an amusing video. I doubt he expected this beautiful bruin to directly approach his vehicle, let alone hop up onto the window for a face-to-face. But that’s exactly what happens, and it’s a doozy:

@flood_tv More bear sightings in Minnesota! This one in Redby, MN. Video is courtesy Alexander Aman of Everlasting Ranch 👀 #bear #bearsighting #minnesota ♬ original sound – flood_tv

“How’s it going? What can I do for you?” Aman asks calmly during this Redby, Minnesota encounter from earlier this week, courtesy of local Fox 5.

As entertaining and pretty as ol’ Curious George is, this is unfortunately a sign of habituation. This young bear has clearly encountered cars before. Not only cars, but he knows the window is a source of food. Someone has fed this bruin from their vehicle, which is a huge no.

Habituated bears often end up hit by cars or euthanized after being declared “nuisance bears.” Chances are you knew this, too, but I don’t have it in me to write about bears without spreading the good BearWise word.

‘Blind Betty’ makes a name for herself on Alaskan military base

Speaking of BearWise, the folks of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) military facility in Anchorage, Alaska are doing it right.

Alaska is the only place in the U.S. where polar, brown, and black bears all live in tandem. So to say bruins are common in our northernmost state is an understatement. Black bears are positively bountiful, too.

One in particular has made a name for herself. She’s a “very smart” sow often seen roaming around the base. But locals noticed some peculiar behavior, earning her the nickname “Blind Betty.”

JBER personnel began to notice Betty’s difficulty navigating her environment, and would often see her bumping into objects. For a while, it was thought she was just clumsy. She’s reared cubs and lives a full life, after all.

“We knew there was something not normal because of the way she meanders and runs into things,” says 673d Civil Engineer Squadron conservation law enforcement officer (CLEO) Mark Sledge in a statement.

But sure enough, a little research proved that Betty is, in fact, completely blind. Local wildlife officials estimate Betty is around 15 years old. She hasn’t reared cubs since 2018, but still “comes and goes as she pleases.”

Despite her disability, “Betty is very smart and has adapted well,” JBER’s spokesperson told Newsweek on Wednesday. And the base staff have gone the extra mile to keep locals BearWise – and to keep Betty safe.

‘The best thing we can do for Betty is let her be the wild bear she is and to keep our distance’

“We help her by informing the people on JBER how to watch out for wildlife and give the animals space. Giving Betty space is the best thing we can do for her,” the spokesperson offers.

“We also educate everyone on base on how to keep trash and human food sources secure, which helps reduce bears from being attracted into human-populated areas on the installation,” they add. “Again, the best thing we can do for Betty is let her be the wild bear she is and to keep our distance. We do not encourage interaction with Betty or any on-base wildlife.”

That’s the way to do it.

VIDEO: ‘Tourons’ corner black bear in disappointing Yellowstone footage

Now we switch gears to the opposite of BearWise. Unsurprisingly, this event comes from Yellowstone National Park, home of the “tourons.”

In this instance, the bear is simply grazing in the park. She happens to be doing so roadside, so the swaths appear. When the footage starts, she’s already cornered up against a steep hillside. A crowd of Yellowstone visitors take photos on one side, while vehicles stop to do the same in every other direction.

Fed up with the commotion, she’s forced to stop her grazing and take for the forest up the incline:

Park visitor Audrey Christine sent the footage into Tourons of Yellowstone before the weekend. “Too close tourons & cars stopped in the middle of the road blocking traffic,” Christine cites.

Ain’t that the truth.

Sadly, this problem isn’t unique to Yellowstone. In Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the beautiful Cades Cove loop road travels through prime black bear habitat. Sightings are common, which means these sort of “bear jams” are, too.

While tracking and photographing black bears in Cades Cove last month, helping volunteers and rangers dissolve bear jams on the main loop became an almost hourly ordeal. Thankfully, bear fatalities are rare in my home park, but less so in Yellowstone. There, bears and bison are hit by cars on a yearly basis.

It’s wonderful that our national parks give us all the opportunity to view the wildlife we admire. But in these high-traffic parks, there are obvious downsides.

The best we can do, then, is be BearWise. For a full breakdown of how to do so yourself, see our National Parks Journal: How to Be BearWise with Great Smoky Mountains’ Lead Wildlife Biologist next.

VIDEO: First-of-its-kind footage shows piebald black bear.

Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this fantastic footage again. Piebald black bears are exceptionally rare, to the point that this footage just captured in Washington state may be the first in history.

That’s no panda, folks:

This is truly incredible to behold. In my many years of studying black bears, I’ve never come across a single video of a piebald black bear.

A piebald animal will have a patchwork of their species’ “normal” coloration and other colors (most often white). It’s a genetic condition that, with a black bear, can result in a panda-like appearance of stark black & white.

For much more on this remarkable video and how it came to be, see our That’s a piebald black bear, not a panda, in first-of-its-kind footage next.

Have a great weekend, Outsiders!