A young man was camping in Colorado and woke up with his head in a bear’s mouth. The bear started dragging him out of camp until the young man and some camp counselors were able to chase the bear away.
Now I know what you are thinking. Do people taste like chicken?
Ok probably not. You are thinking, I knew it! I was right all along to be terrified of bears jumping from the bushes and eating me. This story is no hypothetical situation. It actually just happened. Luckily, this young man’s injuries were not severe but the story has taken the social media world by storm.
Fear the outdoors
While there are many people wishing the man well, other responses where just like the sentiment above and perpetuate the fear of the outdoors. It just confirms all those bear fears they have always had. Here are a few responses from Facebook.
Because of this story and others like it, many people fear bears and the outdoors. If you want to fear bears, that is all fine and dandy. But let’s take a moment to understand the significance of this event as it relates to the safety of YOUR family in the woods.
Bear attacks are rare, extremely rare. You are much more likely to die by a cow than a bear. But how many people cower when confronted with a steak at a restaurant? OK bad example. But people fear bears, wolves, and mountain lions because of the sensational stories on the news. These animals are scary. And any story involving an attack by these animals reinforces that fear and gives it legitimacy.
Now cows are NOT scary. We eat them and write cute stories about them. They give us ice cream! But when a person is killed by a cow, we say “what an unfortunate accident.” And do we then fear cows? Of course not.
So how do we overcome our fear of wild animals and the outdoors? We kill them all. That was the thinking 200 years ago. And look where it has gotten us.
First, we must put things in perspective. This recent bear attack made the news. Guess what didn’t make the news? The THOUSANDS of families that went outdoors that same night all over the world that were NOT attacked or even saw a dangerous wild animal.
That’s right, for every wild animal attack, there are millions of safe, successful outdoor adventures. That is not an exaggeration.
If I was afraid of all things with those odds, I would never eat food again (choking hazard). I would run away screaming every time I saw a car. And I would never ever own a dog or live in the neighborhood with dogs.
Secondly, we must address the fear of wild animal attacks with preparation. There are a number of things you can do to prevent and prepare for animal attacks. And many of them are free or cheap and extremely effective. Most of them are habits and behaviors that take little practice.
A few of the most effective are
NEVER corner an animal
No one likes to feel trapped. Not you, not me, not that animal you startled on the trail. Leave them an escape route and they will almost always take it.
You’ll find that most animals will avoid you when you are making the usual people noises: talking, singing, etc.
YES this actually works! And on more than just bears. Most experts recommend bear spray in a can at least 7.9 ounces (225 grams) that will spray a wide cloud up to 30 feet (9 meters). Regular mace or pepper spray is not the same.
So get rid of your fear and get outside to reap the many benefits of an outdoor lifestyle.
For a little more information on bear safety, check out the National Parks Service page on bear encounters and the Yellowstone National Parks page on using bear spray.
Looking for a printable version of all our tips for wild animal attacks? You can grab it for free on our membership page.