Close encounter with a black bear and her cub in Three Rivers

State News

THREE RIVERS, Calif. ( — With the KNP Complex Fire burning in Sequoia National Park, humans aren’t the only ones being displaced by the blaze.

Our crew surveying the damage caused by the flames had a close encounter with a black bear and her cub Thursday, and while it may not be surprising to encounter wildlife in the wild, experts say it can be dangerous.

As the fire encroaches on the black bears’ habitat, there are a few things experts would like people to remember when they encounter the creatures in the wild.

According to the National Park Service, black bears range throughout both Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks – where they forage for natural foods – digging up roots in meadows, ripping apart logs, and peering into tree cavities for food.

However, when human food becomes available, they learn to forage for human food in place of natural food – which means digging up your backseat to get the cooler in the trunk, ripping apart trailer doors, and peering into your car for food.

The best way to protect park bears is to keep them from getting human food. If you plan to visit these parks, take some time to learn about food storage before you come. For more information, click here.

Keep your distance

All bears found in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park are black bears. However, park officials say its name can be misleading, as they may be black, brown, brown, or even blonde in color.

Park officials say Black bears are usually docile, but when bears and humans get too close, the result can be disastrous – for you or the bear. Bears change their behavior when they get used to seeing humans.

If they obtain our food – even just one time – bears begin to break into cars, tents, and cabins. They may become aggressive. If a bear becomes a safety hazard, we may have to destroy it. In 2010, we had to kill four bears.

What should I do if I encounter a bear?

According to the National Park Service, this is what you should do if you encounter a Black bear in these areas.

Bear Encounters in Natural Areas

Consider yourself lucky, but remember these simple rules:

  • Stay together, especially with small children.
  • If a bear changes its behavior because of your presence, you are too close.
  • Don’t get between a female and her cubs.
  • Don’t linger too long.

Bear Encounters in Developed Areas

We must make bears feel unwelcome in areas such as campgrounds, picnic areas, and buildings so they don’t get habituated to people or get our food. Help keep bears wild and alive! Follow the suggestions below:

  • Immediately make sure that all your food and food-related items are stored properly.
  • Get everyone together (especially children) to appear large. Make lots of noise (yell, bang pots and pans, etc.). Be assertive.
  • Never surround a bear – they need an escape route!
  • Never separate a female from her cubs (cubs may be up a nearby tree).
  • If a bear does obtain your food, never try to take it back.
  • If a bear huffs at you and shows its profile, it may be ready to bluff charge. Stand your ground or back away slowly. Do not run. Running is how a prey animal might act; if you appear to be prey, the bear may have a predatory response. Bluff charges are generally meant to initimidate you, and rarely result in contact.

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