Encountering a bear while out on a trail can be a hair-raising affair, but learning to remain calm when facing off with one of these animals can be the difference between a peaceful outcome and a nasty kerfuffle. When hiker Yuriy Trebushnoy came across a black bear on a trail in Washington State recently, he used the opportunity to film and narrate the encounter. The resulting footage is pretty much a PSA on how to deal with bears in the backwoods.

@yuriytrebushnoy Sometimes you share the trail with wildlife. #washington #pnw #wildlife #bear ♬ original sound - Yuriy Trebushnoy

The video begins with Trebushnoy walking backwards through the dappled light of a tree-lined trail, clutching a canister of bear spray at the ready. Some twenty feet in front of him a bear saunters in his direction. Trebushnoy demonstrates an admirable level of chill as he sets the scene: "So I ran into this bear on the trail," he narrates. "I'm just walking slowly backwards making sure he doesn't get too close." 

The bear keeps pressing forward, but doesn't show any signs of aggression. "He's calm. I'm calm ... for the most part," Trebushnoy explains with a slight (and understandable) tremble in his voice. The trail is relatively narrow with little room for the bear to get past the hiker, so Trebushnoy continues to back up in search of a suitable spot where he can part ways with the approaching animal.

"I saw that the bear just wanted to get around to get to where he was going," Trebushnoy explained in a Facebook comment. "There was a cliff on one side and a drop off on the other side, so we were both looking for a place to pass where it wasn’t 'too close for comfort'."

The bear begins to stray off the trail and looks as though it might vanish down an embankment, but changes its mind and reverts to its original course. "Hello, bear. How YOU doin'?" Trebushnoy quips, in Joey-Tribbiani-like fashion. The bear tests a second escape route, but again pulls out. "Okay, so that's not good enough for him," Trebushnoy narrates. Eventually the bear commits to a retreat down a wooded slope and the hiker wishes him well. 

Many viewers of the video commended Trebushnoy in the comments stream (which is refreshingly wholesome by typical social-media standards) for his composure and handling of the situation. Run-ins with blacks bears – which, despite their name, come in shades of chocolate-brown, blonde, cinnamon, and white – are not uncommon in the USA and Canada where they are relatively widespread. Thankfully, the versatile omnivores usually steer clear of humans, and incidents of human-bear conflict most commonly involve animals that have become habituated to human garbage or handouts.

As Trebushnoy points out in the description of his video, bears encountered on trails are usually just trying to go about their business so it's best to give them space and allow them to get on with their routine unhindered. It's important to stay calm and avoid the urge to turn and run away. Talking in a normal voice helps identify that you're a human being and, unless the bear is in a defensive or predatory mode, it'll likely have no desire to tangle with you.

Black bears usually clack their teeth, growl and huff if they feel threatened. They may also swat the ground or bluff charge. Although it can be hard to hold your nerve when facing off with an agitated bear, standing your ground is your best bet at making it out of the situation unscathed. If the animal appears as though it's going to follow through with its aggressive display, it's time to use that bear spray that you should always have on you when strolling in bear country.

Find out more about black bear attacks and how to avoid them here:


Header image: Ben Forsyth