Silly Man Films Bear in Garage, Gets Charged

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Or, why you should NOT reach for your phone when a fierce animal shows up.

A video on Digg shows a man working on his car in the driveway when suddenly a bear shows up and walks right into his garage. Instead of getting out of there as fast as he can go, the man pulls out his phone and starts filming the bear while yelling threateningly at it. The bear then charges the man several times and eventually wanders out the door and around the corner.

Thankfully no one gets hurt, from what we see in the security camera footage, but it’s disturbing that the man’s default reaction to having a huge apex predator in his garage is whipping out a phone, presumably to record and share the experience with the world. I saw the same sort of cluelessness while traveling in Jasper, Alberta, last summer -- hordes of tourists pulling their RVs onto the side of the road and getting out in order to snap pictures of mamma bears and cubs and elk from fairly close-up.

How removed have we humans become from understanding and respecting wild animals?

It made me think of my childhood, when I grew up in the Muskoka forest of Ontario, Canada. Black bears were a regular part of life, but we were taught always to stay clear and mind our own business. We caught rare glimpses of them while driving or walking down the twisty dirt road to catch the school bus, and every year there were tales of neighboring cottages being broken into by hungry bears in springtime.

One night, when I was around 10, two very distraught teenaged girls showed up on my parents’ doorstep. They were staying two cottages away and, while sitting in their living room that evening, looked up to discover a bear entering the room. Being a pre-smartphone era, or because they were smart enough to want to save themselves first, the girls escaped through the bathroom window and ran to my home, where they spent the night. When my dad went over in the morning, the bear had ransacked the kitchen and destroyed the fridge.

My message to that man in the garage would be, ‘Doing some clean up is a heck of a lot better than getting mauled.’ Unless you are being threatened or attacked, it’s best just to leave these magnificent beasts alone. As TreeHugger editor Melissa wrote before, bear attacks are just as bad for the bears as they are for humans – often because the bears end up getting shot for being a safety threat.

The moral of the story is, if a bear wanders into your garage, forget about recording the moment for posterity on camera. Get out of there as quickly and quietly as you can. You’ll still have a great story to tell.