2019 is a bear of year, partially because this year has been full of surprising bear appearances.
The big, furry creatures have spent the summer crashing weddings and making pit stops at hotel bathrooms — typical behavior for a human, a tad more shocking for our bear friends.
These animal appearances can be mapped from sea to shining sea in America, thanks, in part, to the fact that wild black bears can be found across the country in over 35 states, and grizzly bears in a handful of northwest states.
As human continue to take up more and more space, bears encounters are becoming more common, with the animals venturing out of the woods into more civilized areas, often in search of an easy food source — like a dumpster or snacks left behind by campers.
According to the National Park Service, “each bear and each experience is unique; there is no single strategy that will work in all situations,” but the NPS does advise that if you do see a bear, it is best to stay calm, speak softly to the animal, make yourself big and offer the bear an escape route away from you. If you deem it is best to get away from the bear, NPS suggest walking away slowly and sideways, always keeping your eyes on the animal. You should never run from a bear since the large animals are capable of fast charges and may see running as prey behavior.
To see what shenanigans the country’s more curious bears have gotten into, check out the map below.
September 2019 in Bradford, Pennsylvania: A Pennsylvania bear tried to attend night school, unfortunately there was no one there to teach them. The animal broke into Fretz Middle School around 9 p.m., and spent several minutes walking the building’s halls. After this short visit, the bear felt like they had learned enough and left through the same broken door they used to enter the school.
September 2019 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee: A couple enjoying their big day near the Great Smoky Mountains had a drop-in guest. During a photoshoot between the ceremony and the reception, a black bear lumbered into the lovebirds’ shots. The animal enjoyed a brief walk down the aisle and a few photos before heading back into the wild.
September 2019 in Big Sky, Montana: A young bear in Montana opted to take a more luxurious potty break in September, and stopped at the Buck’s T-4 Lodge in Big Sky to do their business. The animal was discovered in the women’s restroom sprawled out on the sink. The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks were able to safely remove the bear and release the animal in a more remote location.
August 2019 in Truckee, California: Two teens got a solid spook when a hungry bear stumbled into their cabin and helped themselves to the food in the fridge, including some pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Police were able to corral the bear out the front door of the cabin and back in to the wild.
August 2019 in Kings Beach, California: Authorities were called to a motel in Kings Beach to help some of their bear neighbors. The Placer County Sheriff’s Office rescued a bear cub caught in a dumpster, after the youngster became stuck when the lid closed during their dive for trash snacks. After busting loose from the dumpster, the bear cub joined their sibling and mom, who were waiting nearby, and ran off into the woods.
July 2019 in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire: Back on the east coast, a bear with a devotion to good vistas was spotted taking in the scenery of the White Mountains on the veranda of the Omni Mount Washington Resort. After letting the bear have their early morning moment of peace, a hotel employee was able to scare the bear off the property.
June 2019 in Missoula, Montana: A bear who felt a nap coming on decided to seek out an especially cozy spot to sleep and settled on the closet of a Missoula home. Authorities found the bear snoozing on the top shelf of a closet, and believe the animal ended up there after entering the home through the mud room and then accidentally locking the door behind them. For everyone’s safety, officials tranquilized the bear and relocated the animal to the wild.