Six years ago, an unnamed Reddit user who worked at Yellowstone National Park described their intense close encounter with a huge grizzly bear.
An account on the social media platform asked if anyone had escaped a grizzly bear attack by playing dead. Although the account didn’t get the exact answer they were searching for, one user shared their personal story.
A Reddit user with the profile name “orangeheat” chimed in on the conversation. They said they worked as an employee of Yellowstone and came face to face with an adult grizzly bear. However, they didn’t play dead, instead opting to stand completely still.
The Yellowstone employee said that workers in the park receive training on how to deal with the bears. In addition, they spent an entire day of training specifically focused on how to survive a grizzly attack. The Redditor made sure to point out that they are “forever thankful for that training.”
While out in Yellowstone one day, a grizzly bear attacked the employee and their coworker. Within the first few minutes of the encounter, the enormous bear charged at the coworker 13 different times. Furthermore, it stalked the two Yellowstone employees for about 15 minutes longer as they tried to move to safety.
The Yellowstone worker recalled the fear they felt during the encounter. They stated that the grizzly came within inches from their face. They also added that they still have nightmares because of the close call with the huge bear.
The Reddit user didn’t give any further details on the terrifying Yellowstone encounter. However, we can assume they thought twice about their job at the national park. Maybe a quiet desk job somewhere inside doesn’t sound that bad after all following a grizzly bear attack.
How to Safely Escape an Encounter With a Bear
There are numerous ways to prevent a dangerous encounter with a bear when out on a hike or when enjoying other outdoor activities. The large furry animals are some of nature’s most impressive wildlife. Yet up close, they can become defensive and extremely aggressive.
Despite the fact that humans continue to encroach into bear’s natural habitat, attacks on people are still uncommon. Thankfully attacks that lead to fatalities are even more rare, but the powerful animals can still be a threat to humans. Therefore, outdoor enthusiasts should take precautions when in areas that contain any population of bears.
To prevent close encounters, you can scare the animals off by making noise. You can use bear bells as a precaution or travel in groups. If you see bear tracks, make a detour or leave the area altogether. Stay away from bear cubs and “kill sites” or carcasses. The animals will protect their young and their meals.
Officials suggest that hikers leave their pets at home if they know bears could be in the area. If you must take your dog, make sure to keep them on a leash. As a further precaution while camping or hiking, they suggest buying bear repellents, like pepper spray and bear-proof canisters. You can also check with the park offices or ranger station for the latest news and updates on bear encounters in the area.
If all else fails, and you find yourself in a close encounter with an adult bear, here’s how to deal with an attacking bear according to the National Parks Service.
- 1) Stand tall, even if the bear charges you. Running prompts the animal to chase you, and that’s not a race you’re likely to win. Find the courage to stand your ground and stay put. Do not show fear and they will usually turn away.
- 2) Sidestep advances if they’re closing in within a short distance (<8 feet). If engaged in open areas, do not run directly away from the animal. They’re faster in a direct line. However, four-legged animals like bears can’t turn as well as humans. Use that to your advantage. Move left and right and force it to change direction.
- 3) Only play dead with bears after they’ve made contact. Everyone’s heard to play dead, but that’s not your best option. Most encounters are by chance, compared to the rare occurrence of a predatory encounter when a starving animal is looking for its next meal. In most cases, if a bear has attacked you, lay down on the ground and stay still while covering your vital areas like your neck. But that’s only if it’s already attacked. If you recognize it’s a predatory situation, you’ll need to change strategies and fight back.
- 4) Fight back against bears if they start to attack and make contact. If the animal does charge you and goes on the attack, it’s time to fight back by any means necessary. Focus on kicks and punches to the face and muzzle to scare them off. More times than not, it will retreat when it realizes you’re not easy prey.
- 5) Know how and when to use bear spray. Finally, if you’re attacked, utilize your bear spray if you have it. Spray a cloud of the repellent between you and the animal. Make sure to hold your breath and squint as you spray it. Begin spraying when the bear is 10-20 yards away for the greatest effectiveness. Keep spraying until it changes direction. If the cloud doesn’t work, hit it right in the face with the spray.