What would you do if you were being followed by grizzly bears?
Getting out my camera and recording the scary scenario to show my friends probably wouldn’t be at the top of my list, but that’s exactly what hiker Geoffrey Glassner did when he found himself in that situation.
Glassner, 74, was hiking in Alaska’s Katmai National Park when he ran into a family of Grizzly bears. Glassner remained calm and even had the presence of mind to whip out his camera and record them as he walked backwards away from the bears.
“The mom and the cubs keep following me, and they’re walking at least as fast as I am,” Glassner notes in the video. Yikes!
He can be heard breathing heavily as he continues to document the frightening ordeal and even pleads with the animals at one point, saying, “Oh come on, guys, give me a break.”
Eventually, the bears found a river and left a relieved Glassner alone.
“The cubs were out in front of mom and I was interesting to them,” Glassner told Inside Edition. “My biggest fear was that they would get close to me and then mama bear would think that I was a threat and come after me.”
The National Park Service gives a number of recommendations on how to handle a bear encounter, depending on the situation:
- If you spot a bear from a distance, try to stay out of its line of vision. Detour as far as possible behind and downwind of the bear. Never approach the bear.
- If your encounter with a bears happens suddenly, try not to panic. If a bear clacks its teeth, sticks out its lips, huffs, woofs or slaps the ground with its paws, it’s trying to warn you. Never run, shout or make sudden movements. You may trigger the bear to chase you, and they’re much faster than you’ll ever be. Instead, slowly back away (as Glassner did in this case).
- If a bear does charge you, the best response is to stay still and stand your ground. You should carry bear spray with you if you’re in an area where bears may be, and this is the time to use it! NPS says to start spraying with the bear gets as close as 60 feet away.
- If a bear makes contact, you should lie facedown on the ground and “play dead” with your pack (if you are wearing one) protecting your back, your hands clasped behind your neck. Remain still and silent, and the bear will hopefully determine you are not a threat and move on.
- However, if a bear is curious instead of defensive, “playing dead” could cause the bear to become predatory. If a bear is approaching with its head up and ears erect, that indicates he is “curious” and is your cue to be aggressive and fight back in hopes he will back away. Never approach a bear in defensive mode, instead back away slowly as mentioned above and play dead if contact is made.
- Since 1970, people who played dead when attacked by a bear during a surprise encounter in Yellowstone received only minor injuries 75% of the time. However, those that fought back during surprise encounters received very severe injuries 80% of the time.
And, while the Park Service doesn’t note this on its website, filming your escape from a bear with your phone is most likely ill-advised. We’re just glad Glassner is OK.
Check out the unbelievable video below.