Saturday, July 9, 2011

Grizzly love -- and defensive attack

Grizzlies. The word comes with scary associations of grizzly bears on the attack, charging humans.

But there’s also a softer side to the word: mother grizzly bears protecting their young against perceived threats. That’s what seems to have happened in Yellowstone National Park last Wednesday, when a hiker-couple were charged by a mother grizzly defending her two cubs.

The bear was only “doin’ what comes naturally,” as the song goes. Unhappily for the hikers, the husband of the pair was killed, while the wife, who played dead, lived.

They don’t seem to have bothered the bears; they just walked into a meadow and saw them. They then went in a different direction, but the mother charged them.

Related stories mentioned “bear spray,” which deters bear attacks, and the advisability of playing dead, not running away. Even harder to imagine: the advice to stand up to a charging grizzly because some charges are bluffs. Some are.

The only good news to come out of this incident: the mother grizzly wasn’t punished for doing what she would naturally do. She and her cubs went on with their lives.

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