Officials at an Alaskan National Park are warning visitors to take extra care after two incidents involving unusually aggressive brown bears within a few days of each other.
One of the encounters at Glacier Bay National Park and Reserve (opens in new tab) involved a group of six hikers, who were charged by a brown bear while walking. As Newsweek (opens in new tab) reports, the hikers were able to scare the animal away by shouting and using bear spray (see our guide on how to use bear spray to learn how to safely carry and deploy this important safety tool).
Just three days later, a bear approached two people camping in the park. "The campers retreated in their kayaks," The National Park Service said in a statement (opens in new tab). "The bear remained onsite and destroyed their camping equipment." The campers were eventually picked by a boat and taken to safety.
The NPS doesn't know whether the encounters involved two different bears or the same one, but has issued an advisory warning visitors not to camp in the area, to stay alert, and to keep control of their gear at all times.
Glacier Bay is home to both brown and black bears. The black bears mostly stay within woodland, but brown bears can be spotted throughout the whole park.
Usually both types of bear try to avoid humans, but habituation – when wild animals become used to humans and lose their natural wariness – is a serious problem that can have tragic consequences. Once an animal feels comfortable around people and has developed a taste for our food, it's more likely to approach in the future. In many US states, if a bear attacks a person, even if the individual is unharmed or suffers only very minor injuries, the bear is caught and euthanized.
For tips on how to avoid close encounters, and how to stay safe if you get too close for comfort, see our guide what to do if you meet a bear,
Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 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).
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