“I don’t care if you’re hungry, I’m not your food!” Watch as this bear-prepared Grand Teton runner comes mere feet away from a cinnamon black bear fresh out of hibernation.
Bear country folks know what “fresh out of hibernation” means, too. For all bear species, the end of their long winter’s sleep means great hunger. And just like us, hunger can make a bear overly aggressive.
Evan Matthews found this out for himself while out for a run in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. Filming the encounter, Matthews notes right off the bat that a “hungry little cinnamon black bear” who is “fresh out of the den” is watching him very closely.
Too close for comfort, in fact. Thankfully, Matthews proves himself a true citizen of bear country. He doesn’t run from the black bear, which will only instigate. Instead, he stands his ground and shouts repeatedly to let the wild one know he’s not an easy target.
“Hey! Stay back,” he yells out into the snowy woods. “Hey! No!…No, you back up! You stay there!”
Watch the video here.
Wyoming Runner Prepares for Bear Attack…
The cinnamon-colored beaut isn’t taking no for an answer at first, however. Despite his proper behavior, the curious, possibly hungry bear takes to the trail and continues pursuing him. This is when you can clearly hear the adrenaline hit Matthews as he prepares for an attack.
“Hey, no! I don’t care if you’re hungry, I’m not your food,” he shouts, voice shaking. “Sure, we could take a walk if you want, you don’t get any closer, though.”
Again proving himself bear-prepared, Matthews shows the camera his bear spray, which he now has ready to use.
“Luckily he’s not coming too fast,” he continues, short of breath. “I’m only a quarter-mile from the car. Hopefully I don’t have to spray him…”
Luckily for all involved, there was no bear spray used that day. Instead, the black bear eventually makes his way off the paved road and back into the wilderness.
“That’s the first time I’ve been kind of run up on by a bear… It’s exciting. Seen plenty of them out in the wild but never had them come at me like that,” Matthews narrates.
Successfully Navigating a Black Bear Encounter – Separating Fact from Fiction
In his video description, the Wyoming runner goes into more detail on how he navigated the black bear encounter:
“I did NOT run away,” he cites. “If I had, the bear could have thought of me as prey and chased me down. Being that I am not prey, I stood my ground when it charged, showing it that I’m not a prey animal, then backed away slowly.”
This is a solid tactic, proven to be far more effective than most when dealing with curious black bears. Moreover, Matthews states he “did NOT play dead.”
“That may save your life if a mother bear with cubs is attacking, as she may perceive the threat to be over. But with a solo bear who is interested in you like this, it is not trying to eliminate a threat—it is trying to find an easy target. Don’t be one,” he tells readers.
Playing dead, however, is never an advisable tactic when dealing with a bear attack – blacks, grizzlies, or any species. Take it from this wildlife tech who grew up in black-bear filled Appalachia: if you want to survive a bear encounter, these tips are your absolute best bet.
“I kept talking to it to show that I was a human and not to be mistaken for another animal. Not all bear encounters are the same,” Matthews continues in his description.
“In most cases, I’ve been able to just go around the animal. But this one was interested in me, so I had to change its mind!”