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Story of the Day: How to Survive a Bear Attack


Here is a helpful hint on how to survive an encounter with a bear: (from the NYT)

‘‘Help the bear identify you as human,’’ says John Hechtel, a retired wildlife biologist for Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game. Talk to it in a calm but firm voice. Put your hands above your heads and wave them slowly. Avoid reacting to a confrontation in a way that makes you look like prey: no screaming, flailing or running.

Biologists put attacks, which are exceedingly rare, in two broad categories: defensive and nondefensive. The best strategy for fending off a bear depends greatly on correctly diagnosing the bear’s state of mind. A defensive bear tends to look agitated. It might paw at the ground, roar or salivate. This bear attacks because it is usually trying to protect its cubs or food. The nondefensive bear wants to eat you. Such a bear tends to look coolheaded and confident — what Hechtel calls ‘‘pushy’’ — with its head held high and ears erect. In a nondefensive attack, fight for your life. Use anything you can — stone, log, knife. Aim for the face and ears.

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