‘It’s coming right at us.’ Huge bears confront couple hiking in Alaska, TikTok shows

Screen grab from Chasing Luminance TikTok video

“It’s coming right at us. Laura, move down the trail.”

Alex McGregor somehow managed to keep his voice calm as he directed his hiking partner away from the massive bear staring them down, his March 10 TikTok video shows.

A moment later, he notices another huge bear farther down the hiking trail. McGregor and his partner Laura put the hiking trail between them and the bears then venture deeper into the forest of Katmai National Park in Alaska.

@chasing.luminance So this was an interesting encounter. You might wonder why we didn't just walk backwards down the trail? Why did we go into the thick forest? Every other time we saw a bear on the people trail they were just using it as a highway , cruising back and forth. So we were trained to get off the trail and give them the right away while making sure the bear knows we're there so we don't startle them. This bear had other ideas... we're very grateful to the bear school training that helped us keep calm and move out of his way. #bears #brownbears #brownbear #katmai #katmainationalpark #animalencounter #absoluteunit #wildlife #wildanimals #Alaska original sound - chasing.luminance

“So this was an interesting encounter,” McGregor wrote in the caption on TikTok and Instagram. “You might wonder why we didn’t just walk backwards down the trail? Why did we go into the thick forest?”

That’s what park rangers had instructed them to do if they came across bears on the trail, he said. The bears in this specific population have become habituated to humans, McGregor explained in a follow up video.

“Every other time we saw a bear on the people trail they were just using it as a highway, cruising back and forth,” McGregor explained. “So we were trained to get off the trail and give them the right [of way] while making sure the bear knows we’re there so we don’t startle them… we’re very grateful to the bear school training that helped us keep calm and move out of his way.”

McGregor and his partner keep talking to the bear as it sniffs around the area, at one point seeming to look right at McGregor and his phone’s camera. Eventually it turns and saunters back the way it came, chuffing as it goes, the video shows.

“That chuffing while deciding to disengage is such a great example of animal communication,” someone pointed out in the comments on the video. “[The bear] was like, ‘I’m not scared, I’m just done sniffing ya.’”

McGregor replies that he didn’t notice that until he watched the video later.

“You guys did great. Good job keeping [calm] and nerves steady,” an TikTok user with a commercial fishing company out of Alaska and Colorado said. “Pretty wild how commanding their presence is. Takes your breath away.”

Others joked all McGregor had to do was outrun Laura — which is exactly what the National Park Service recently recommended not to do, McClatchy News previously reported.

McGregor later filmed a short series answering some of the most common questions and comments on the video, including why they talked to the bear and whether they were afraid.

“The reason why I was acting in a calm way instead of being more aggressive is because of this bear population,” he explained. “This is an area that gets a lot of guests… I was definitely not the first person that that bear had run into.”

When they showed up at the national park to hike, they went through “bear school” with a park ranger, where they learned the best way to interact with these specific bears, he said.

“The main thing you want to do is get off the trail so they can have the right of way, and make your presence known and stay calm,” he said. “So while it was definitely a little bit tense, it wasn’t as scary as it might look or as it would be in other locations.”

That’s also why they kept making noise, he said.

“This worked well for that location because the bears are habituated,” he said. “But I would’ve been acting differently if I was in Montana or Wyoming or somewhere different.”

Someone else commented what others were probably thinking: “Dude get out of there,” saying that the bear ”might eat you for lunch.”

McGregor said the bears were there due to an abundance of salmon in the area this time of year.

“I was definitely not nervous about being looked at as a food source for the bears. I was more nervous about being looked at as a play thing for the bears,” he said. “My main goal was to be uninteresting and it left us alone after it realized we weren’t any fun.”

What to do during a bear encounter

Bear attacks in the U.S. are rare, according to the National Park Service. In most attacks, bears are trying to defend their food, cubs or space.

There are steps people can take to help prevent a bear encounter from becoming a bear attack.

  • Identify yourself: Talk calmly and slowly wave your arms. This can help the bear realize you’re a human and nonthreatening.

  • Stay calm: Bears usually don’t want to attack; they want to be left alone. Talk slowly and with a low voice to the bear.

  • Don’t scream: Screaming could trigger an attack.

  • Pick up small children: Don’t let kids run away from the bear. It could think they’re small prey.

  • Hike in groups: A group is noisier and smellier, the National Park Service said. Bears like to keep their distance from groups of people.

  • Make yourself look big: Move to higher ground and stand tall. Don’t make any sudden movements.

  • Don’t drop your bag: A bag on your back can keep a bear from accessing food, and it can provide protection.

  • Walk away slowly: Move sideways so you appear less threatening to the bear. This also lets you keep an eye out.

  • Again, don’t run: Bears will chase you, just like a dog would.

Don’t climb trees: Grizzlies and black bears can also climb.

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