Several cyclists who were stopped alongside a road in Glacier National Park on Monday shouted toward a nearby grizzly bear to ward off a possible attack. Smart or unwise?
In the accompanying footage, captured by Maureen Gerber and shared by KUTV 2News, the cyclists repeatedly shout “No bear!” and “Go away, bear!” Some demands were louder than others.
Those sharing comments beneath the KUTV Facebook post had mixed opinions, with some maintaining that it’s best to make lots of noise.
However, while it’s proper to make noise while hiking or cycling, to alert grizzly bears to your presence, experts advise against shouting or screaming during an encounter.
According to the National Park Service, once a bear has spotted you it’s best to stand your ground or slowly back away while talking calmly and slowly waving your arms to help the bear recognize you as a human.
The cyclists appeared to have remained calm. But their “No bear!” shouts might not have been the safest reaction.
From the NPS website: “Stay calm and remember that most bears do not want to attack you; they usually just want to be left alone…. Continue to talk to the bear in low tones; this will help you stay calmer, and it won’t be threatening to the bear. A scream or sudden movement may trigger an attack.”
Stronger emphasis from the NPS: “Do not make any loud noises or screams—the bear may think it’s the sound of a prey animal.”
The cyclists, who were grouped together and barricaded somewhat by their bikes, did not scream but their tones were not low and, in fact, might have caused the bear to look in their direction.
Reads one of the top comments: “That bear wasn’t the least bit threatening to those people. He was just meandering by and probably wouldn’t have even looked over at them if they hadn’t been causing such a commotion.”
Glacier National Park is in Montana. The encounter occurred on Going-to-the-Sun Road.
–Generic grizzly bear image courtesy of the National Park Service