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This Terrifying Video From Great Smoky Mountains National Park Reminds Us to Stay Aware Around Black Bears

A hiker in Great Smoky Mountains National Park captured video of a black bear aggressively following them, and it serves as a reminder of safety around bears.

Megan W., who goes by @smoky.mountain.soul on Instagram, shared a recording of the incident on social media. She says the entire ordeal was about 45 minutes long. 

In reply to another comment, Megan said she eventually escaped after throwing a pack of trail mix at the bear, which gave her time to get away and call 911. She says the bear returned right when the help arrived.

Megan says she wanted to share the video as a reminder that black bears can be aggressive and that everyone should take proper safety measures while hiking. However, that didn’t stop some from being critical of her post.

“I admittedly had been lured into a false sense of security based on past experience with black bears, my lack of even seeing them throughout my hundreds of miles of hiking, and the overall narrative around here that black bears aren’t aggressive,” posted Megan in response to negative comments. “I am an avid hiker and ‘bear aware’ of proper protocol, so I am not ignorant or stupid, but I am the first to admit that I made a careless, foolish choice to go without protection when I changed plans last minute by myself.”

black bear safety
A black bear in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (Source: Getty Images/ Ken Canning)

Black Bear Safety

The truth is black bear attacks are extremely rare. The North American Bear Center says there are only 61 recorded deadly black bear attacks in North America since 1900. Your chances of being killed by a pet dog, bee or lightning are higher. 

However, safety is still important, and incidents happen, including two separate issues in Colorado this year. One involved a camper bit by a bear while relaxing in a hammock. The other involved a security guard who came face to face with a bear that broke into a hotel kitchen

If you do come across a black bear while hiking:

  • No matter what, do not run.
  • Make loud noises like clapping your hands or yelling.
  • Fight back if the bear attacks you.

Grizzly bears, the black bear cousin, are far more aggressive, with multiple incidents and deaths recorded this year. The grizzly territory is much smaller than that of the black bear, and is only found in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington State and Alaska.

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