Sunday, May 27, 2012


The other day at a dinner party the topic of bears came up.  There aren't really many things I'm afraid of in life, but bears scare me to death.  Remember when Alfred asks Bruce Wayne, "Why bats, master Bruce?"  And he answers, "Bats terrify me.  It's time my enemies share my dread."  If fear of an animal is what turns people into superheroes then it's a good thing I don't have billions of dollars or any enemies, because I would be Bearman, and things would get really ugly really fast.  I mean, bats can give you rabies (which is pretty terrifying), but we have vaccines for that.  No vaccine for a bear attack that I know of.  And you can kill a bat with a tennis racquet (my brother-in-law had to do it several times in their house in Virginia).  A tennis racquet, seriously?  Why would you be scared of bats?

I think my problem is that I have a pretty vivid imagination and so I've thought it through probably a thousand times and I still can't figure out how you could survive a bear attack.  First of all, they're huge--grizzly bears weigh up to 800 pounds and stand somewhere around 8 to 10 feet tall.  But the crazy thing is they're really fast, like 25-30 miles per hour fast.  That's about a 2.4 minute mile.  By the way, it would take a bear less than 8 minutes to run 5k at that pace.  And I've heard that the rumor about them not being able to run as fast downhill is false.  Fast, huge, strong, and lots of sharp things with which to hurt you--what is more scary than that?  Oh, and they can climb trees pretty well too.

I looked up "how to escape from a bear" on and they had some good ideas for survival.

1.  Avoid close encounters.  It says things like don't follow bear tracks.  It amazes me that there are people dumb enough to need this tip.

2.  Keep your distance.  Gladly.

3.  Stand tall, even if the bear charges you.  Yeah, that's not going to happen.  I try to run away from dogs that attack me.  Speak loudly in a deep voice.  How about a deep chipmunk voice?  Because I'm pretty sure that's the best I'd be able to do with an 800 pound death machine coming at me.

4.  Know your bear.  Because a black bear is going to kill you differently from a brown or polar bear.  I think everyone should be well-versed in bear taxonomy.

5.  Understand the bear's motivations.  Motivations?  Bear psychology?  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think it's pretty simple:

Still, somehow not very reassuring to me.  A bear encounter just seems like a lose-lose situation where all you can do is hope that the bear is stuffed, happy, and not surprised.