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article imageTourist recounts grizzly bear confrontation during Alaskan tour

By Leigh Goessl     Feb 29, 2012 in Travel
King Salmon - A group of tourists on an Alaskan adventure got more excitement than they'd bargained for when their group faced an unexpected and up-close view of a grizzly bear.
The group had been on a day-trip sightseeing in the Katmai National Park in Alaska. They had stopped to view some animals when a grizzly bear turned and suddenly charged towards them. One of the tourists captured the incident on video.
The Daily Mail reported observing grizzly bears from 'from a safe distance' was a part of the tour, but a close-encounter with one of the animals was not supposed to be on the itinerary.
ABC News reported the bear encounter happened back in Aug. 2010, however the person who'd taken the footage, didn't upload the video on YouTube until Feb. 2011. However, the video is suddenly gaining a lot of attention now, with close to 300K page views and many recent comments.
A group of 10 photographers went on a tour offered by Bald Mountain Air Service which advertises 'brown bear safaris'. During the course of the tour, a brown bear suddenly came charging, and came within 3 feet of the group. The bear even sniffed one of the members of the group. The bear was described as being about 8-feet.
Screen capture from YouTube video of grizzly bear charging group of tourists in Alaska
Screen capture from YouTube video of grizzly bear charging group of tourists in Alaska
“This particular bear circled our group several times, wanting us to leave his fishing spot,” Larry Griffith [individual who filmed the bear], on the trip with his wife, Cindy, told ABC News. “Our guide said he saw this as a bluff charge, trying to scare us away.”
The guide warned the group to remain quiet and still so not to prompt a bear attack. The group heeded their guide's warnings and the bear did leave the tourists alone, presumed to have lost interest in the people since he did not attack. In the video he appears to be making his presence known, then sniffs around, and shakes himself of the water he'd just walked through.
“We all turned away and were frozen, and I couldn’t breathe,” Griffith said. "We were all in shock, very happy that no one in our group jumped up, running away or screaming for their lives." Griffith noted a close-encounter with a grizzly "wasn't supposed to happen."
Griffith indicated they'd seen over 30 bears and no others came close. He thinks the bear was drawn to the sightseers because of the scent of one of the tourists' garments, as the bear came over and sniffed the hood.
The Alaska Outdoor Journal indicates an estimated 35,000-45,000 brown bears live in Alaska. Females weigh 200-400 pounds and the males can weigh in at 400-1000 pounds. Bears usually go on the attack if feeling threatened, especially females protecting their young, but are believed to, for the most part, avoid humans.
Alaska Outdoor Journal also stated, "In most cases, if you give a bear the opportunity to do the right thing, it will."
Looks like this is exactly what happened for the Alaskan tour group, having heeded their guide's wise advice.
More about Alaska, Grizzly bear, Katmai National Park, brown bears
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