Probably shouldn’t have read this before heading to the New Mexican mountains: A bear broke through a glass pane to gain entry to Trujillo’s house and killed her.
Or this: A bear tore open the door to McClelland’s trailer and attacked him.
Or: After the initial attack, Dube climbed a tree. The bear brought Dube down and mauled her.
As someone who is certain a bear will have something to do with his demise, reading about and watching bear attack videos before vacationing is about as smart as watching Jaws at the beach or viewing Paranormal Activity before spending the night in a haunted house.
But, before venturing onto the NM mountain trails, I read a ton of info about bears, including the first story above that occurred not too far from where we’ll be staying.
Our cabin is “rustic,” the equivalent of a house being “cozy” – words that crack up real estate agents behind the scenes. With a running start, I likely could push the cabin over and a bear’s sneeze could certainly fell it.
Naturally, bear attacks are rare, like shark savagings and poltergeist threats. But they occur.
(Hmm, in all my worrying about being slain by a bear, I never thought about a ghost bear. It’s already impossible to out-run, out-climb, or out-swim a grizzly/black/brown bear – what if it was a spectre, too? Goodie, one more thing to think about in the dead of night in a flimsy cabin.)
In an effort to give myself every chance to return from this work break, I am consuming every piece of literature I can to make sure I come back to the safety of my home where only copperheads and scorpions thrive.
Among the suggested bear survival techniques is one used up north. Native Alaskan peoples believed that bears were another species of man, a really hairy ugly one, but a human offshoot. When Yukon folk came upon a bear, they’d raise their hands and say, “Hello, brother bear. I did not mean to disturb you. I will leave your territory now and leave you in peace.” Of course, by the time one Eskimo got this speech out, the other guys were already half a mile down the trail running madly the other way.
Experts say the best way to avoid a bear is to “avoid a bear.” Well, duh. It’s important to make sure you can see 100 feet in front of you and, if not, to make noises that would frighten the creature away like singing a Celine Dion song.
If a bear charges during that crappy theme to Titanic, your heart might go on but not much else of you will. To survive, we’re told to talk to the bear – it will likely be a series of panicked expletives – and to make yourself bigger by holding your arms above your head. Keep talking as you back away but be careful not to tumble into the bear’s den right behind you.
Should a bear descend upon you, two differing actions are recommended: either play dead or fight back, in that order. If you mix it up, the “play” part won’t be a problem pretty soon.
While one can pretend to be dead, that doesn’t always work with a giant grizzly whose weight alone will squash you even if he quits pawing at your skull. The good news is grizzlies will back off an attack if it believes its prey is dead. The bad news is you will literally be crushed into the trail and a snake will probably come along and bite you. A big one.
The best protection from bears – after making sure you live in Hawaii – is a gun. I won’t have that option, but my smartphone has an app that makes a shotgun firing sound. That might give the grizzly pause, at least, while I endeavor to make one final tweet: “There’s a @+!* bear attacking me!” (Even under attack, I will refuse to use texting shorthand.)
Another ursine deterrent is bear spray. The application of it will either “make the bear break off the attack or make it mad.” All I will have is my asthma puffer and, at $16 bucks a pop – even with insurance – I’m not about to waste a spray on a brown bear.
Most folks’ primary choice to escape a bear is, sadly, the worst – running away. Active fleeing kicks in a bear’s pursuit instinct and they can hit 30-35 miles per hour but that was hand-timed so it’s not 100 percent, more like 28 mph, likely.
Still, that’s faster than you, puny human. But perhaps you’re faster than your companion and that’s what really matters. Sorry, bride.