Trial runner Victoria Pham recently had an incredibly close encounter with a black bear on a hiking trail in California. The incident happened on the Mount Wilson trail near Los Angeles. A video posted on Instagram shows the black bear walking by Pham on a dirt path that’s barely wide enough for both of them.
“There were actually a few people behind me. They weren’t in the video, but they were talking to me like, ‘Hey, what are you doing?’” Victoria Pham told KTLA. “I’m like, ‘I’m going to let it pass.’ They asked, ‘Are you sure?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I’m going to let it pass. It’s the best thing to do right now.’”
Pham says that she couldn’t try to haze the bear to go up the trail and away from her because the bear would’ve quickly ran into other hikers. During the fall, bears are fattening up in preparation for winter hibernation. They may appear bulky and typical sport fat bellies, but they can still move fast when spooked, which is what this bear did when it ran away a bit farther down the trail.
Nationwide, black bears are more common than grizzly bears. They also tend to be less aggressive of the two species. Black bear attacks on people are quite uncommon but they do occur. This particular encounter in southern California’s Sierra Madre Mountains worked out, but it was definitely not an ideal scenario.
“I do recognize that it is a bear and can do serious damage,” Pham wrote on Instagram. “If I was in Montana [where grizzlies are present]…I most definitely would not be standing there, letting it pass.”
Though the worrying incident panned out in this case, people should always try to maintain a distance of at least 100 yards from bears. The black bear in Pham’s video sports an ear tag, indicating it may have a history of close encounters or conflicts with humans. California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials have not indicated any plans to trap or euthanize the bruin.
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