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Yellowstone bear attack reminds campers to be vigilant

by Timothy Martinez Jr.

A little more than a week after I posted on how to deal with bear encounters, a 57-year-old camper was killed by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone.

Even though lethal bear attacks are exceedingly rare (according to an article in NBC Montana, the last death in Yellowstone was 25 years ago), this should further open your eyes to the possibility of being mauled by a bear.

In this recent case, the man and his wife were pretty experienced campers, having been to Yellowstone four times. Unfortunately, they encountered the bear under unlucky circumstances. Here’s how their encounter was described in Reuters:

The hikers first spotted a bear about 100 yards away and began walking in the other direction, but when they turned to look back they saw the female grizzly charging at them down the trail, according to an account issued by park officials.

The couple began running, but the bear caught up to them and attacked the husband, then approached the wife, who had fallen to the ground nearby.

The bear charged at the couple because they surprised her and her cubs.

In this situation, they did a few things they were supposed to and some they weren’t. As I said in my post, you should never turn your back on a bear and never run. When a big angry bear is charging at you, it’s probably really hard to resist the urge to run, but that’s what you should try to do.

One good thing they did was when the bear caught the man’s wife, she pretended she was dead so the bear would leave her alone. That tactic worked because she lived to see another day.

The action of the bear was not out of the ordinary since it was simply protecting her young, which is why park officials have said they aren’t going to euthanize the animal.

There are a few things I would add to my advice for encountering bears. Always have pepper spray readily available in case you need to subdue a bear and wear a whistle to scare it away. Since surprising a bear is the last thing you want to do, if you’re rounding a bend you can’t see around, make loud noises so animals know you’re coming.

Don’t let this deter you from enjoying an adventurous camping trip, but let it be a reminder that you must be vigilant of your surroundings and behavior at all times.