In response to a hysterical article in the NYT (Fear on Cape Cod, 21 October 2021) I posted ‘how not to get eaten by a shark‘ which contained some very sage advice. While my experience of bears (excluding the koala and drop varieties) is limited, that advice remains sound.
i.e., this could save your life, kids.
Tragic yet apt example first:
Leah Davis Lokan was killed by a 417lb young adult male Grizzly bear at 4am on 6 July 2021 while camping in a small town in Montana. She was alone in her tent at the time, having driven off the bear an hour earlier after she woke to hear it “huffing at her head” through the tent wall.
The official report is here if you want it.
The medical examiner deduced that death was caused by multiple blunt force injuries to the victim’s head and upper torso, noting that her neck was broken and her spinal cord severed.
What the report doesn’t make explicit is that the bear bit Lokan’s head through the tent (bear saliva recovered from victim’s face), or that the bear intended to eat her.
Putting aside our other apex predator, the drop bear, Australia’s first recorded fatal shark attack was 1791 — hundreds of Aussies have been taken since. But we’re not allowed to blame sharks (or drop bears) anymore, even when they hunt us for food.
For example, we don’t even call it a “shark attack” in Oz anymore — they’re “shark/human interactions” and the only thing that matters is whether the
attack incident was “provoked” or not.
Same with the report into Lokan’s
killing misadventure, with the authors of the report excusing the bear’s predatory unfriendly behaviour because there was a toiletry bag in Lokan’s tent which MAY HAVE ONCE STORE BLUEBERRIES!
The inference is that bear simply moved Lokan out of the way (albeit by the head) to get at the blueberries. They don’t explicitly say so, but the inference is clear.
I mean, you know, blueberries. C’mon!
This attitude, despite US National Parks advice that ” If any bear attacks you in your tent, or stalks you and then attacks, do NOT play dead—ﬁght back! This kind of attack is very rare, but can be serious because it often means the bear is looking for food and sees you as prey.”
Lokan missed the hint that she was being hunted, or ignored it. She had bear spray in the tent but no chance to use it. Predators come at you hard and fast — it’s why I don’t swim in the ocean anymore. I feel like bait.
So the best advice for staying safe from bears is (a) don’t camp in bear country, (b) don’t eat blueberries ever, or (c) install mechanical werewolves like the do in Japan to scare the bears away.
Or don’t camp in bear country.