A family in Colorado got a crash course in letting nature take its course this week when a trio of black bears showed up in their backyard. Things seemed relatively calm on the forested property – until the bears' prey showed up. 

Filmed by homeowner Erik Stone, the footage may be tough viewing for some, but it features interesting behaviour from both the bears and their human neighbours.

Many mother bears "tree" their cubs for safety while they're busy scouting and hunting, but Stone explains that's not what happened here. Before the dramatic chase scene took place, another one unfolded nearby, when the family's dog, Boomer, sniffed out the furry trio of visitors. 

"There's a cinnamon [cub] on the left, black one on the right – about 40 feet up," Stone said in a previous video (featured below). "Boomer chased them up the tree." 

The fawn entered the scene only after the commotion had settled down, but unfortunately for the youngster, the quiet yard wasn't as safe as it appeared.

"It wandered down to near the tree where the bear cubs were," says Stone. "Mama bear was in the deep grass at the bottom of the tree and spotted the fawn."

While the clip certainly contains a lot of hooting and hollering from the excited onlookers, Stone did have the presence of mind to keep his dog at bay, and to do his best to prevent anyone from intervening in the situation from that point on. Exactly why the baby deer was alone is a mystery, but it stood little chance in this scenario. 

By the time mother bears emerge from their dens with cubs in tow, they'd have lost some 30 percent or more of their body weight during their wintery slumbers – and they're feeling some serious post-hibernation hunger. In this case, it's also possible that the climbing youngsters shared some of their mother's meal: bear cubs begin eating solid food when their chewing teeth erupt in late spring (by June, they're typically enjoying small snacks like insect larvae).

Backyard run-ins with bears can be unnerving, but wildlife officials stress that the best way to avoid conflict with the furry interlopers is to educate yourself about their natural behaviour, stay calm during encounters, and follow the recommendations of your local authorities. 

In this case, Stone certainly made the right call in vetoing a family member's suggestion to use an airgun to scare the bear off its kill. Research has shown that these animals are more likely to charge when shots are fired.

In fact, when it comes to self-defence in bear country, you're much better off reaching for the bear spray.

Law enforcement agents with US Fish and Wildlife, who have been investigating interactions with bears since 1992, found that people who attempted to defend themselves against brown bears using firearms were hurt about 50 percent of the time. Those who used bear spray, on the other hand, were more likely to escape injury. What's more, attacks tended to be shorter and less severe if the bear hadn't been wounded or spooked. 

Back in 2012, University of Calgary bear biologist Dr Stephen Herrero and his colleagues came to similar conclusions after a study of nearly 400 black, brown and polar-bear encounters.

For Stone, meanwhile, the recent sighting represents an interesting look at the natural world. "Circle of life," he says. "At least the mama bear is teaching her cubs to eat deer and not human garbage." 

We're with you on that one, sir!



Top header image: Pixabay