"I don't have to be faster than the bear, I just have to be faster than you," the old joke goes.
But the National Park Service is encouraging you to never put that saying into practice by say pushing your slower friend down to give yourself a head start in escaping the bear.
"If you come across a bear, never push a slower friend down… even if you feel the friendship has run its course," the service tweeted.
"Seeing a bear in the wild is a special treat for any visitor to a national park. While it is an exciting moment, it is important to remember that bears in national parks are wild and can be dangerous," the NPS added.
Bears hibernate during the winter but as Spring arrives and snow begins to melt they venture out. And naturally, after their long nap, they've got the munchies. And want to make sure their territory isn't now under threat.
Still, if you encounter a bear while out with a friend, you shouldn't leave them behind.
Instead, the NPS, site advises: "Once a bear has noticed you and is paying attention to you," you may be able to deescalate the situation by :
Identifying yourself as human and not a prey animal. Remain still; talk, stand your ground but slowly wave your arms. (If the bear stands on its hind legs or comes closer it may just be trying "to get a better look or smell," NPS says. "A standing bear is usually curious, not threatening.".
Staying calm It take a lot of energy to maul someone, and for the most part humans aren't worth the effort. So remember, "most bears do not want to attack you; they usually just want to be left alone." But they may "bluff" by charging at you and then turning away at the last second. The NPS warns, "A scream or sudden movement" at this point "may trigger an attack." Shitting yourself is presumably OK. It probably adds to your repulsive smell.
Picking up small children. Do this quietly and calmly and try to keep them from making a"ny loud noises or screams — the bear may think it’s the sound of a prey animal." And you are the only thing between it and a tasty snack.
Hiking in groups. Which amplifies the human noise and smells approaching.
In addition the NPS offers a variety of warnings about things to avoid:
Don't allow bears access to your food.
Never drop your pack. It can provide protection if the bear does attack
Do NOT run. Bears can run as fast as a racehorse both uphill and down. Like dogs, they will chase ﬂeeing animals. Move slowly and sideways. If the bear follows, stop and hold your ground. Always leave the bear an escape route.
Don't limb a tree. Both grizzlies and black bears can climb trees.
Never ever get between a mother and her cub(s). If you see a cute little bear cub do not approach it or encourage it to approach you. If a mother bear thinks you are a threat to her cub(s), she will attack.
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