It’s summertime and that means more bear sightings and bear encounters for folks who enjoy the outdoors. (If you’re encountering bears indoors you should move.)
Thanks to effective bear conservation and hunting regulations, we are more likely to see bears today than we did years ago. Bears are making a comeback and there are an estimated 900,000 of them in North America, but no one is sure, because most bears refuse to fill out their census forms.
This month, the bruins are in the midst of their mating season, and you don’t want to get in the way of a 500-pound lonely bear that spent the winter sleeping, has an empty stomach, and is out looking for some action.
So, what do you do if you encounter a bear in the wild? I would run like hell, especially if a randy he-bear was hitting on me, buying me a few mead wines and offering to take me back to his place to see his collection of bugs and berries.
But it turns out that running is exactly what NOT to do when you meet a bear, known taxonomically as Ursus Americanus (translation: “America’s horniest beast”). If you run, the bear might think you are prey, and decide to have you for dinner after he has his way with you. Yikes!
And don’t think you can outrun a bruin. They can sprint 30 mph or more and are excellent tree climbers. So, forget about scurrying up the nearest tree and hugging a branch, cuz then, to the bear, you look like a steak on a stick.
They say you should also make a lot of noise, so the bears know you are coming, and you don’t startle them. Talk loudly, clap or sing loudly, but not rap songs. Bears hate rap, disco and anything by Barry Manilow. And NEVER EVER sing “The Bear Went Over the Mountain,” cuz bears hate that condescending song the most.
Black bears are unlikely to attack humans unless you startle them or they are defending their cubs, say the experts. When you meet a bear, you should remain calm and don’t panic. Yeah, right.
Calmness is the last reaction that my autonomic nervous system will display when I’m face-to-snout with an angry 6-foot-tall mama bear protecting her cubs. Hopefully, the unpleasant order of my soiling my pants will turn her away.
According to the Internet, when you meet a bear, you should (and I’m not making this up) “introduce yourself” by talking calmly so the bear knows you are a human and not a prey animal. Apparently, prey animals, like deer and rabbits, are now wearing human clothes and talking on their smartphones, and this is confusing the bears.
The best way to introduce yourself to a bear is to offer your hand in a friendly handshake and, using a calm but firm voice, say, “Hello Mr. or Mrs. Bear. I’m a human. Nice to meet you. I’ll just be on my way now.” Then pull back the bloody stump that was your hand and arm and slowly back away.
Some people believe it’s best to play dead if you are about to be attacked by a black bear. That would be easy for me, because I’d have a heart attack and drop dead on the spot.
Turns out playing dead is not a good idea. When you pretend to be dead, the bear doesn’t have to go to all the trouble of biting and clawing you to death, so you’re like a DoorDash delivery, still warm and ready to eat.
If a grizzly bear attacks you, however, they say it’s ok to play dead. I guess it’s good practice for when you will actually be mauled to death, a few minutes later.
Instead, you should try to look large and intimidating by standing erect and spreading your arms and legs. Or you can do what I do, I wear several layers of heavy winter coats and clothing to give me that intimidating Hulk Hogan look.
They also say you should avoid eye contact. Apparently, bears don’t like to be stared at (fragile egos and insecurities, I guess). Stare into a bear’s eyes and it gets angry and thinks, “Don’t you be eyeballing me, dude! I’ll kick your sorry ass and then carnally violate it just out of spite. You hear me, nature boy? Look away! Look away!”
The Internet and survival guides are full of detailed information about how to tell the difference between a black bear and a brown grizzly bear, like the size of their ears and snouts, the distance between their head and tail and other subtle details.
How about this simple identification tip, a black bear is friggin’ black? If you need more ID info than that, you deserve to become a bear buffet. That’s best for everyone as it removes your kind from the gene pool.
What about bear pepper spray, you may ask?
According to the experts, it works on some bears but not others. In fact, some bears are so immune to pepper spray that they will grab it away from you and spray you to spice you up, like Tabasco sauce, before they eat you.
The best advice I found on the Internet says that when you are in bear country, take a partner and a knife.
When a bear attacks, stab your friend in the knee and run, leaving your hobbled friend behind to deal with the beast.
Jim Pfiffer’s humor column posts every Sunday on the Jim Pfiffer Facebook page, Hidden Landmarks TV Facebook page, West Elmira Neighborhood, SouthernTierLife.com and Elmira Telegram.com. Jim lives in Elmira with his wife, Shelley, and many pets. He is a retired humor columnist with the Elmira Star-Gazette newspaper and a regular swell guy. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.