ENVIRONMENT

Friends Don't Sacrifice Friends To Bears, Wild National Park Service Message Warns

The quirky bear advice also reminds hikers that bruins like to be left alone: "Don't we all?"

File this under advice you may not have known you needed: Do not sacrifice your friends if you wind up in a confrontation with bears.

Yes, that’s a recommendation the U.S. National Park Service included in its latest advice of what to do — and not do — when encountering a bear.

“Please don’t run from bears — or push your slower friends down in attempts of saving yourself ... even if you think the friendship has run its course,” the Park Service said in a jokey Facebook post last week. 

In other, more serious, advice: If you come upon a stationary bear, “move away slowly and sideways; this allows you to keep an eye on the bear and avoid tripping.” Sideways motion is “non-threatening to bears,” the post notes.

Don’t run — or climb a tree. But if a bear follows you, hold your ground, rangers recommend.

“Identify yourself by making noise so the bear knows you are a human and not a prey animal. Help the bear recognize you as a human. We recommend using your voice,” the post suggests. 

It adds: “Stay calm and remember that most bears do not want to attack you; they usually just want to be left alone. Don’t we all?”

The advice ends with a postscript: “We apologize to any ‘friends’ who were brought on a hike as the ‘bait’ or were sacrificed to save the group. You will be missed.”

A photo accompanying the advice shows a “bear resting on a log thinking bear things” at Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska, according to the caption.

People responding on Facebook appreciated the lighthearted tone.

“Love your humor, but I am one of those slower people ...” wrote one. Another quipped that his father “used to say: ‘You don’t have to be faster than the bear, you just have be to be faster than your sister.’”

Someone even came up with the perfect warning poster:

There have been a record seven serious grizzly bear attacks in the Yellowstone area this summer, possibly because more people are hiking in the area while avoiding flying or taking summer trips elsewhere because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Four bears linked to the fatal mauling of a man in Alaska were killed last week by rangers.

And there was this close call last month in Montana:

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