A runner turned a blind corner on a narrow mountain trail in Southern California and came face to face with a mother bear and her two cubs, tense video shows.
The runner posted on Instagram a series of videos showing the encounter on Mt. Wilson in the San Gabriel Mountains. The trail is about 15 miles northeast of Los Angeles.
“While I was trail running alone, I was about 5 inches from hitting momma bear after turning a tight blind corner,” the runner, identified on Instagram as Laura Gold, says in the Nov. 8 video’s caption. “To prevent myself from hitting her, I stopped as fast as I could and almost slid down the mountain doing so. I had already seen the cubs, so I knew I wasn’t safe.”
The first video shows the bear glancing back at Gold as the runner turns the corner and spots both cubs on the trail. In the next video, the momma bear turns and briefly charges toward Gold as the runner backs up the way they came on the trail.
Gold explains how they “used every trick in the book (except bear spray)” to try to scare the bears off, but the momma bear kept coming.
Gold even let out a guttural roar at one point before following up with a whistle, several outlets reported.
Eventually, another hiker came up from behind and helped Gold scare the bears off down a different trail, video shows.
Reactions were split in the comments. Some asked why the runner kept approaching the bear family in the video.
“I think she’s trying to get down the mountain. Not sure if there’s another way,” someone said, adding they were shocked the bear didn’t attack the runner for stalking them.
Others said the runner was wise to keep their calm, especially as the bear bluff charged.
One person said they encounter bears every time they go to Mt. Wilson, and there’s so much foot traffic in the area “bears aren’t bothered” by people’s presence anymore.
“The reason they are walking towards them is because that’s how (you) get them to go away,” they said.
Still, others questioned what they called a bold and risky strategy that could have endangered the bears had the momma bear attacked after all.
“You put these bears in danger,” someone said. “Stay off the trails if you don’t know how to respect wildlife.”
What to do if you see a bear
Bear attacks in the U.S. are rare, according to the National Park Service. In most attacks, bears are trying to defend their food, cubs or space.
There are steps people can take to help prevent a bear encounter from becoming a bear attack.
Identify yourself: Talk calmly and slowly wave your arms. This can help the bear realize you’re a human and nonthreatening.
Stay calm: Bears usually don’t want to attack; they want to be left alone. Talk slowly and with a low voice to the bear.
Don’t scream: Screaming could trigger an attack.
Pick up small children: Don’t let kids run away from the bear. It could think they’re small prey.
Hike in groups: A group is noisier and smellier, the National Park Service said. Bears like to keep their distance from groups of people.
Make yourself look big: Move to higher ground and stand tall. Don’t make any sudden movements.
Don’t drop your bag: A bag on your back can keep a bear from accessing food, and it can provide protection.
Walk away slowly: Move sideways so you appear less threatening to the bear. This also lets you keep an eye out.
Again, don’t run: Bears will chase you, just like a dog would.
Don’t climb trees: Grizzlies and black bears can also climb.