OK, you’re on a nice little family vacation in Yellowstone National Park and you see bears! And there are cubs—jackpot. That’s why you made the trek in the first place. You take pictures; it’s once in a lifetime. In the midst of your we’re-all-connected-the-bears-and-I moment, the female black bear and its three cubs start walking your way. Then they up the ante to a light jog. You realize, now, that you’re on a bridge Stand By Me-style. You walk a little faster. Remember your training, you think.
But then you remember you don’t have any training. Thinkthinkthink: Are you supposed to play dead? Or get big and roar? You know, to show the black bear that you’re not going to be intimidated. Should you climb a tree? Dig a hole? This trip wasn’t even your idea. You wanted to go to Florida. Will you get out alive?
In the end, no one was hurt during this weekend’s refresher course on how not to deal with animals in the great outdoors that are not animated or made of gelatin. What should the tourists have done? “Once the bears started approaching, the tourists worsened the situation by running and screaming,” Kerry Gunther, the park’s bear management program leader, told the Associated Press. “They instead should have grouped together on one side of the bridge and allowed the bears to pass.”
“If the bear is more than 100 yards away, wildlife officials advise people to retreat quietly and without running to avoid attracting its attention,” AP reports. “If the bear is within 100 yards, people are advised to slowly back away and speak to the bear so the animal can recognize that it’s having an encounter with a human and not one of its typical prey species.”