In the past several years, I’ve had several encounters with black bears.
Most of my encounters were in the Delaware Water Gap, a beautiful stretch of river and forest along the New Jersey-Pennsylvania border, where black bear are abundant.
In a few cases, I walked around a bend in a trail, and stumbled upon a bear.
But I’ve been lucky, because the bears I’ve stumbled upon were still pretty far away, and didn’t seem to notice me.
I’ve also seen a few bears in the Catskills, in upstate New York.
Once while floating down the Delaware in my pontoon.
And another in the hills.
Black bears are mostly harmless.
So are other species of bears, really.
Tim Treadwell spent 10 years with wild grizzlies.
He did fine, really, until he was eaten.
But Treadwell wasn’t a tempting meal to these wild bears.
Instead, they avoided conflict. And each time that a bear came face to face with Treadwell, and didn’t eat him, it survived.
It helps to see these events from the bear’s perspective. Or from an evolutionary perspective.
For the bears, avoiding unnecessary and uncertain conflict is a matter of survival.
A bear that doesn’t eat you isn’t a good bear, or a friendly bear as Treadwell imagined they were.
That’s a normal bear.
A bear that seeks conflict is a gambler goin’ all in, who can’t see his opponent’s hand. Abnormal behavior.
Just gotta be wrong once, and the abnormal bear is a dead bear…
So conflict seeking, abnormal bears were taken out of the gene pool, long ago.
You still could be attacked, but if you don’t run, or otherwise show the bear your weak hand, you wont be…
Unless its an abnormal bear.
A full bellied bear is a harmless bear.
The bears that attack, in the rare cases that they do, are old and often starving.
They end up dead if they attack a human.
So the outcome here isn’t a surprise, but it’s still awesome to watch.