Surviving a Bear Attack
Someone asked: You are fishing for salmon in Alaska when you see a grizzly running toward you in the distance. What do you do?
I replied: The main thing is to remain calm, DON’T RUN, and consider your options for cover if an Alaska bear charges you. If you have time (because the bear is in the distance) and a vehicle is readily available, jump in. Or, if you are near a shelter, get inside. If you are in the open and the bear is charging you, don’t move or look it in the eye. Talk to the bear calmly and wave your arms above your head to appear bigger and human. Many times the bear will run right by you.
Play dead if an Alaska brown bear or grizzly attacks you. Grizzlies want to remove the threat to their environment. However, if a black bear attacks you, fight like heck because they will eat people. If a polar bear attacks you, good luck. Those babies are enormous, and humans are on their menu.
You should prepare for bear encounters, but please don’t spray or shoot bears who are NOT a threat just because they are in the area. The bears need to fish for their survival. Do not feed a bear your fish because they will associate food with humans. Give them space and their fishing hole if you are using it. Find another one. Alaskans love their bears and hate to see them hurt by ignorant or panicky people.
Check out the National Park Service “Bear Attacks” information page. It is well worth the read.
Photo: Alaska brown bear roamed the Bering Sea beaches and the village’s black sand roads. They left prints on our porch and down the driveway.
Now, for the rest of the story.
While harvesting salmon from a creek near Bear Valley Lodge on Prince of Wales Island, black bears fished upstream in the water and wandered the nearby forest. One bear grunted angrily at us from the bridge beside us, and another one sounded like a chainsaw behind us. We gathered the fish and net, and then left calmly. The bears were close by but not running toward us in this situation. However, they were unhappy.