Earlier today, a few folks in Alaska had a surprising Brown Bear encounter while hanging out by a river. The curious hulk galloped up the river to get a better look at the on-shore humans. What first looks like a charge slowed into a playful peek as he stood up on his hind legs. Eventually, the beast decided that he had no interest in the humans and he galloped on up the river.
The viewing humans showed some tremendous courage standing completely still and allowing the bear to go about his business. A bear encounter can be extremely startling, but oftentimes the best thing to do is keep your cool and not freak out, just as these Alaskans did.
Protocol for Bear Encounter
While a bear encounter is not uncommon, especially in wilderness settings and National Parks, they typically do not result in bear attacks. For the most part, bears fear humans as much as humans fear bears. However, bear behavior is extremely unpredictable, so it’s important to be prepared when entering the bear territory. Here are some simple tactics to avoid danger when face to face with a bear.
As the National Parks Service recommends, these outdoorsmen kept calm and clear-headed in the face of danger. Or at least it seems so from that angle. Like many different animals, bears have a tendency to sense fear and anxiety.
The next step, as they followed in this bear encounter, is to hold your ground and keep still. What the NPS recommends is to begin speaking to the bear in a calm and controlled manner. This indicates to the bear that you are in fact human and not a prey animal.
Typically if a bear stands on his hind legs, he does not show aggression, but rather curiosity. In this case, remain calm and hold your ground. Begin slowly waving your arms while continuing to speak in low, calm tones. Bears do not want to attack, they want to be left alone most of the time.
A bear may also bluff a charge and hold off at the last minute. Again, remain calm and stand your ground without making any sudden movements.
The best strategy overall is avoidance. While bears can make a very interesting sight, the best move is to avoid getting too close. Also, avoid bring food to tents in the backcountry and do your research on what your local National Park Rangers recommend.