A group of hikers have been filmed harassing a mother black bear and her cubs in Grand Teton National Park, crowding around the animals to get a better look and take photos. It's always important to give wildlife sufficient space, but this is particularly dangerous; black bears rarely attack people, preferring to avoid close encounters, but can become aggressive if they feel they or their cubs are threatened.
The National Park Service (NPS) warns that bears can seem to be tolerating the presence of humans, then attack with little warning.
The incident, which you can watch below, was shared on Instagram account TouronsOfNationalParks, which highlights examples of bad behavior in areas of natural beauty. Other close calls have included a tourist trying to pet a mountain goat, and a man almost sliding into the Grand Canyon after vaulting over a fence.
A photo posted by on
Black and grizzly bears can be found throughout Grand Teton, though identifying them isn't always straightforward as both can range in color from blonde to black. Grizzly bears have a distinctive shoulder hump and a concave-shaped facial profile, whereas black bears have no hump and a straighter snout. Black bears also have more pointed ears, and are generally smaller than grizzlies.
If you see a bear but it hasn't spotted you, the NPS advises taking a detour quickly and quietly to avoid disturbing it. If the bear has noticed you but isn't behaving aggressively, back away while talking calmly to identify yourself as human, and without making direct eye contact. Don't run, as this can trigger the animal's instinct to chase. Standing on hind legs isn't necessarily a warning sign; the bear is likely just trying to get a better view.
If the bear approaches, stay still until it stops moving, then continue to back away. If you have bear spray, this is the time to use it,
For more advice, see our guides what to do if you meet a bear and wildlife safety: eight tips for unexpected encounters.
- Best binoculars and monoculars: enjoy wildlife watching from a safe distance
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.