The first thing to remember, there are all kinds of “bears” in the world.
Foremost, the large, woolly, fanged and clawed type that inhabits nature, our National Parks and local campgrounds. Attacks by one of these majestic beings (try not to picture them rocking cars and breaking into unprotected trash receptacles) are usually straightforward: stumbling into one on a trail – a mother with cubs – or at a blatant, unprotected food source.
The Edge, starring Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin, is the equivalent of Jaws on land. Though highly entertaining, unless you are truly unfortunate, the likelihood of a bloodthirsty, man-eating bear stocking you is slim.
A second, dangerous and more subversive “bear” prowls our cities and suburban communities, stalking, subduing and attacking female prey. This “bear” is often difficult to spot: well-bred, educated, handsome or not, rich or poor. This “bear” is challenging, and advance warning of an attack may prove impossible.
Be alert: Pay attention to others around you. Do you notice anyone or anything amiss? Take off your earphones, walk toward the edge of the sidewalk on lonely streets and scan your environment inside and out.
Make noise: Make enough noise to be noticed and not enough to draw unwanted attention. Say hello to the local shopkeepers, waitresses, doormen, reservationists at the airport and train station and movie theater attendants. In the evening and/or in an unknown locale, make a call home or to wherever you are expected. It is good practice to let others know you are expected, cared for and will be missed. P.S. yelling “Fire!” may bring help more quickly than “Help!”, a sad reality.
Carry “bear” spay: Carry pepper spray on your key chain (which should be in your hand when walking), in your bag or in the back pocket of your jeans. A small flashlight can light the way and act as a deterrent. A step further, a personal alarm, stun gun or guy friend. Carry a charged phone, 911 is just that.
Avoid hiking alone: When your mother insisted you go any and everywhere 2 by 2, she had it right! You are far less likely to be singled out if you are with others. Predators endeavor to separate their prey from those who will come to aid. Never leave a friend behind; it’s just not worth the risk to either of you.
Do not run: Keep your wits about you. Examine your situation and thoughtfully decide on the best exit strategy. DO NOT let good manners lead you into trouble. The word “No” is your ally, use it along with your best judgment and common sense.
One suggestion missing from the National Park’s Bear Avoidance flyer: Do Not Feed The Bears.
It’s obvious but must also be said, DO NOT help a “bear” feed you. Never and I mean never, accept an OPEN drink, or any other ingestible from one not known well to you, please …