During the COVID-19 lockdown bears and other animals that live in national parks roamed free with no interaction with humans. Now as visitors are starting to return to the parks there have been more bear sightings, so National Park Service issued a witty PSA about what to do if you encounter a bear on your visit.
What would you do if you came across a bear while strolling through one of the scenic national parks? Run, scream, or freeze are probably everyone’s first thoughts, but park rangers posted how to stay safe with a hilarious spin.
“READ: Please don’t run from bears or push your slower friends down in attempts of saving yourself.” The post went on to say,
“As a follow-up to a previous post, if you come upon a stationary bear, move away slowly and sideways; this allows you to keep an eye on the bear and avoid tripping. Moving sideways is also non-threatening to bears. Do NOT run, but if the bear follows, stop and hold your ground. Like dogs, they will chase ﬂeeing animals. Do NOT climb a tree. Both grizzlies and black bears can climb trees. Do NOT push down a slower friend (even if you think the friendship has run its course).
“Stay calm and remember that most bears do not want to attack you; they usually just want to be left alone. Don’t we all? Identify yourself by making noise so the bear knows you are a human and not a prey animal. Help the bear recognize you as a human. We recommend using your voice. (Waving and showing off your opposable thumb means nothing to the bear) The bear may come closer or stand on its hind legs to get a better look or smell. A standing bear is usually curious, not threatening.
“P.S. We apologize to any “friends” who were brought on a hike as the “bait” or were sacrificed to save the group. You will be missed.”
This is not the first time the park has used humor to make this point. Just a few weeks ago the park posted a photo that read “Friends don’t use friends as bear bait.”
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The hilarious yet informative message was well-received and people commended the park on being creative. One follower wrote, “Whoever is the social media staff, you are AMAZING! I have read more about national parks and its residents than ever in my life.” Another said, ” I will now forever wonder if I’ve been invited on the hike as bear bait 😂 thanks NPS!”
All joking aside, bears are wild animals and coming too close can be dangerous. While most bear encounters end without injury, there are certain steps to take if you find yourself face to face with a bear. In addition to the tips provided in the PSA, rangers advise visitors to never feed the bears and to always hike in groups. Never surprise or corner a bear, especially a mother with cubs.
“Be especially cautious if you see a female with cubs; never place yourself between a mother and her cub, and never attempt to approach them. The chances of an attack escalate greatly if she perceives you as a danger to her cubs.”
We are visitors in their home and need to be on the lookout for them, especially when driving. Countless bears are hit and killed by vehicles every year, so please slow down and stay alert!
Laughter is the best medicine, so be sure to share this with your friends and family.
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