Can you be friends with a bear? This brings to mind a famous line from the original “Indiana Jones” movie: “You go first.”
Still, someone asked the geeks at Gizmodo (of all places!) this question. They, in turn, asked a number of experts for comments and put together a surprisingly interesting article.
Mild spoiler: Shannon Donahue, Executive Director of the Great Bear Foundation, wrote the best, most elegant answer . . .
Late last year, a photo of a bear officiating a wedding in Russia went viral. The picture turned out to be fake, but its popularity says something significant about our conception of the species: Despite thousands of years of contrary evidence, and at least one harrowing documentary, human beings still on some level want to view bears as big, cuddly, forest-dwelling dogs.
Are we wrong to feel this way? Can a human and a wild bear have anything approaching a pet-like, or at least, non-lethal relationship? The example of Grizzly Man’s Timothy Treadwell, of course, haunts this line of questioning. But the experts we spoke with—people who have studied bears, lived among them, and worked to conserve their natural habitats—would reject the idea that any kind of bear-human bond will inevitably end in bloodshed. More or less all agree that every bear is a wild bear—that even if it playfully nuzzles you, or spends twenty years riding a tiny bicycle in your traveling circus, the odds of it suddenly mauling and/or eating you alive remain high. But opinions differ on just how close our two species can get, and what “closeness” can really mean, when you’re dealing with a thousand-plus-pound forest creature.
This was not a good day for human-bear interactions, although it was something of a testament to the use of bear spray . . .
Four people injured in two separate bear attacks in and near Yellowstone National Park on the same day were able to escape with relatively minor injuries. None remained hospitalized Friday.
In Yellowstone, officials decided not to pursue a grizzly that attacked two hikers on a trail near Canyon Village on Thursday in the north-central portion of the park. The sow grizzly attacked after the hikers came across its young cub born the previous winter, according to park spokesman Al Nash…
Later that day, two Bureau of Land Management contract workers were attacked about 70 miles west of the Yellowstone attack…
Larry talks about the start of hunting season and some recent bear encounters . . .
In my neighborhood, Trail Creek, the early snow translated to hunter success. Although I have yet to get my winter’s meat, my close neighbors have harvested two bull elk and at least four whitetail bucks.
I don’t know whether other North Fork neighborhoods have been as successful, but apparently not. I accompanied a neighbor to town with his elk last Sunday, and R.J. at the checking station said it was the first elk he’d seen, and he’d checked only two deer in the first two weekends of the hunting season. The checking station is only open on weekends, so animals taken out during the week are not recorded.
This should be pretty relevant to anyone interested in the problems of sharing the landscape with bears . . ..
The Flathead National Forest is hosting an educational Bear Fair on Saturday, Aug. 11 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Coram. The event is at the Coram Community Center, 185 Coram School Lane, and is free and open to the public.
Participants will learn tips and tools for living in bear country, including information about bear country etiquette, safety and food storage. There will be informational booths, an electric fence seminar, various speakers and a bear spray instruction…
Between 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. there will be presentations from the U.S. Geological Survey, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Center for Wildlife Information and electric fencing specialists.
No one who has spent much time on the North Fork will be surprised by the material discussed in this Associated Press article about grizzly bear encounters by inexperienced hikers.
However, there is a startling statement near the end that makes the whole article worth reading . . .
Officials recommend hikers carry bear spray, not run from grizzlies, and not hike alone.
Meanwhile, a representative of the British Columbia Ministry of Environment said a new study there found more evidence of Canadian black bears making predatory attacks on humans.
“We’re used to defensive attacks by grizzly bears, that are usually triggered by protecting cubs or food or space,” said Tony Hamilton. “But now we’re seeing black bears that have typically had no previous human contact looking at us as potential prey…
Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks has been pretty busy recently dealing with various bear encounters and some long-term nuisance bears, including one dropped of on the North Fork. The Daily Inter Lake has a summary . . .
A man escaped mostly unscathed after coming face to face with a black bear Friday morning…
Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists captured grizzlies near Eureka and Ferndale Thursday and trapped and killed one grizzly near Ferndale…
Here’s a timely reminder to be bear-aware from today’s Missoulian . . .
There have been a half-dozen encounters between grizzly bears and humans reported in Montana this month alone, a number experts attribute to a growing bear population stuck in the low country because of the deep snowpack.
Most of those encounters didn’t turn out well for the bears. Four times, the grizzlies were shot and killed.