A few weeks ago, I was at a historical society meeting (more on that in a minute) at the restaurant up here in Braddock. A black bear appeared at the trashcans and we all rushed to windows to watch him try to drag out a bag of yummy, yummy trash. He was probably a yearling, not fully grown. While it is usual to see a bear, they ARE around, so I thought the unicorn-sighting reactions of the folk were a bit out of proportion, but still, cool enough to see a bear.
Today, I picked Lily up from swim team practice and she got into the car excitedly telling me that they’d seen a black bear. As we drove away from the pool, she said “There he is!” and sure enough, the bear was sauntering through the Braddock Height park. Sleek, beautiful, and out for a stroll. We watched him until he got too close to a back yard and the dogs went insane (“Finally! We have something real to protect the house against! Woo! “) and the bear scampered back into the woods.
Since I let the kids go to the park on their own, I thought I’d see about relocating Mr. Bear to a less populated area. I went to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources site, where they said they don’t relocate bears, but rather educate people on how to live with them. Fair enough. I know that black bears are generally shy and unaggressive (and I’m not TOO badly scarred by being pursued down Mt. LeConte by an angry mama bear), so I continued to read their tips.
Pretty standard stuff, Don’t sneak up on the bear. If you see him before he sees you, just back away and leave him be. If he sees you, be cool, back away, don’t make eye contact, no running. Your usual “how to survive in a gang neighborhood” advice. Then I read this:
Black bears may exhibit some unique behaviors when they feel their personal space is being threatened. A crowded bear may huff or make a woofing noise at the threat. They may also swat the ground, pop their jaws, or even bluff charge the perceived threat. When a bear bluff charges, it may stop several yards or just a few feet short of the threat. Remember not to run. Stay calm. Remain upright and back away from the bear.
I added the bold there. Because I’m going to need an awful lot of help to remember not to run if a bear is charging me. I read this to Steve and he suggested that the powerful Bear Lobby has infiltrated the DNR and is spreading information to make it easier for the bears to catch us and eat us. But *I* know how to cook bear, so he’d better HOPE I forget not to run.