The National Park Service says “never push a slower friend down” when escaping a bear

(Gray News) – National Park Service officials use some humor as they share some bear safety tips.

The National Park Service shared on their social media this week that “If you come across a bear, never push a slower friend down … even if you feel the friendship has run its course.”

Officials said that when spring arrives, officially on March 20, and the snow begins to melt in parks around the country, many bears are expected to become more active.

According to the park service, seeing a bear in the wild is a special treat for any visitor, and while it’s an exciting moment, it’s important to remember that bears in national parks are wild and can be dangerous.

Officials said the bears’ behavior can be unpredictable at times, and although rare, attacks on humans have occurred.

“Following some basic guidelines can help reduce the threat of danger,” the park service shared. “Your safety may depend on your ability to calm the bear.”

Keeping your distance and not surprising bears are some of the most important things park visitors can do, officials said. And most bears will avoid humans if they hear them coming.

The Park Service advises visitors to pay attention to their surroundings and make a special effort to be noticed if they are in an area with known bear activity or a good food source, such as berry bushes.

Officials said there is no single strategy that guarantees safety, but they shared some general tips to prevent a bear encounter from escalating:

  • Identify yourself by speaking calmly so the bear knows you are human and not prey.
  • Keep calm and remember that most bears will not attack; they usually just want to be alone.
  • Pick up small children immediately. Do not make any loud noises or scream.
  • Hiking and traveling in groups. Groups of people are usually noisier and smellier than a single person.
  • Make yourselves look as big as possible (e.g. move to higher ground).
  • Do not allow the bear access to your food. Getting the food will only encourage the bear and make the situation worse.
  • Do not drop your pack as it can provide protection for your back and prevent a bear from accessing your food.
  • Don’t run, but if the bear follows, stop and hold your ground. As dogs, they will chase fleeing animals.
  • Do not climb a tree. Both grizzlies and black bears can climb trees.
  • Be especially careful if you see a female with cubs; never place yourself between them, and never try to approach them.

More bear safety tips can be found online from the National Park Service.

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