Telling the story of my life in my home - Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

If You Go Into the Woods Today - Bears in Wood Buffalo

The video is all over social media, and without a doubt it is quite gripping, especially in light of the recent tragic death of a Suncor employee. Life in the north of Canada means encounters with wildlife, although the wildlife is normally on the timid side and reclusive, preferring to disappear into the forest when humans appear – but not always.

I have read a lot of commentary on this video as well, including criticism of how the individuals handled this close encounter of the ursine kind. I would suggest that in such an encounter any strategy that allows one to escape unscathed was obviously the right one, and that handling it differently could have meant a worse outcome, too. Hindsight is a lovely thing, and it is quite easy to speculate when you aren’t the one close enough to smell the fur of a black bear.
I have had several encounters with bears, both in Wood Buffalo and in northwestern Ontario. I have been within two feet of one, separated only by a flimsy railing, both of us in a state of shock (and me close enough to smell his musty fur, while he could no doubt smell my abject fear). I have also worked with domestic animals in a professional capacity for over a decade, and I am adamant on one fact: animals are animals and while we have a tendency to anthropomorphize them and their behaviour they behave as they do based on their innate instincts and behaviour patterns. As soon as we lose respect for them and for their very animal-ness we put ourselves in jeopardy, even when they are domesticated.

The bear in this video appears curious, not necessarily aggressive, but that there are aggressive animals out there should never be discounted. If you go out into the woods today, you could be in for a big surprise – just like these two joggers who encountered a rather unusual bear.
 
And this one is just for fun -
but remember if you go into the woods today
be prepared for bears!
 

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