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Sow with triplets
CONTRIBUTION · 1st October 2010
Darren Davies
Spending lots of time in the outdoors I often encounter wildlife. Anytime I see some of our amazing "neighbors" I always feel lucky to see gods creatures in their natural environment, this includes those large ferocious teeth bearing, claw tearing, monsters called bears.

I have always seemed fascinated by them, I'm not sure why, because they are king of the forest, held in high regard in first nation lore or maybe all those scary bear stories or perhaps just the good ones like Winnie the Pooh, I just don't recall when my fascination started.

My friends and family often ask "aren't you afraid of getting attacked?" I am always puzzled by that question, should I respond "are you afraid of getting hit by a car or attacked by a weirdo, you probably have a better chance?" Some folks don't even hike in case they run into a bear! Now I'm not advocating bears are not dangerous, in fact some acquaintances pack guns while hiking. My perspective is as with any wild animal, treat them with respect and learn about them.

There are many great books about bears (check out the library) that investigate root causes of bear attacks with statistics on grizzlies, blacks, sows with cubs and predatory bears. I am sure I have seen hundreds of bears with many encounters well within what most would feel would be an acceptable range (under 50 ft) with only a handful giving me cause for alarm. Raised fur, cubs present, not alarmed at my presents as a few examples of warning signs. 80% of the time they have heard me coming and I am watching their rear end running up the mountain in escape, 10% from a far distance, 5% of the time they are curiously trying to figure out what I am before fleeing, a few times I have unexpected met one face to face before they have fled and the odd one up a tree.

In the end I believe animals can feel your "energy". If you are giving off the energy of prey, hmmm, probably not so good, maybe time to read some books to feel a little more comfortable about the wild animals in our backyard.

Perhaps one day I will be the unfortunate recipient of an attack. Chances are it won't be an attack but a defensive strike that will be reported as an "attack". I am sure some bears are just inherently nasty, just like some people, animals, weather, and the like; however we don't live in fear.

Instead I will continue to advocate bears as my neighbors and give them the respect and admiration all wildlife should have. Read, learn, respect and enjoy not just the bruins but all the great things the outdoors offers. Happy hiking!
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