Thursday, August 21, 2014

Confessions of a Bear-Phobic

Everyone who knows me knows I love animals. I love all kinds of animals, including the dangerous ones in the wild. From the safety of my television screen or the cover of a National Geographic magazine, they’re beautiful creatures. There are no tigers in our neighborhood, no rhinos running through our backyard, so there’s no reason for me to fear them. The only real "semi-dangerous" wild animal I’ve encountered in our domestic life is probably a coyote—occasionally they enter suburbia—but they’re more of a threat to small animals than to people.

In the past few years, however, I have developed a strange fear of bears. While driving up to Great Meadow, Virginia a few years ago for a camping trip, my husband and I saw a big black bear poking his head out of the trees. That pretty much ended the fun part of the camping trip for me. Our small dog was with us, and along with my own personal safety, I was suddenly terrified for her welfare (even though we were camping with about five other couples who all had small children, and they didn’t seem at all worried). My husband assured me that spotting the bear was a fluke—no other bears would be around. Once we arrived at the camp ground, however, the sign posted on the ranger station read: Mama bear and her three cubs have been seen roaming these campgrounds. Be on alert. Please use bear boxes to lock up all food.


And that just about did it for me. I spent the rest of the day expecting to see a bear lumbering into our campground, and I couldn’t sleep that night for fear of a bear attack. We ended up only staying one night and left early the next day. A camper I am not.
So during our travels this past week in California, I once again experienced my fear of the almighty bear. While hiking in South Lake Tahoe, I asked my husband, “Are there any bears around here?”

“No,” he answered. “In all the years I’ve been coming up here, I’ve never seen a bear.”
The very next thing I saw was this:


Fun over.
But we had friends with us, so I pushed through the fear, hiking along the wooded paths and around the lake. We even rented some bicycles and rode through the woods (I figured at least I’d have a good chance of outrunning bears on a bike).

Just as I was beginning to relax and have a good time, we stopped at a look-out point and began chatting with a couple--there with their yellow lab. Somehow the conversation turned to bears and how Lake Tahoe was filled with them.
“The last six years they’ve been really active around here and in the residential areas,” the wife told us. And then they proceeded to relay a story about their house being repeatedly burglarized by bears that literally ripped the front door off the hinges, entered the house and made themselves at home (including raiding the refrigerator). “And then they just left again,” she assured us. “The bears were gone by the time we got home.”
To me, a bear home-invasion experience is much like people who hear voices in a house telling them to “get out!" A bear ripping the front door off of my home and entering it would have the same effect on me: a For Sale sign in the front yard.

So as we rode back to the camp ground to return our bikes, I felt newly assured that my fear of bears was completely justified.


What fears do you have?


  1. I think I too would be afraid of seeing a bear out in the woods like that. I did want to see a bear (from a distance) at Yellowstone when we would go to visit, but never did. Lake Tahoe is so pretty, isn't it? Haven't been in a bit, but always an enjoyable place to go (except for watching out for bears).

    My fear out in the wild would be snakes. Won't want to go hiking for fear of seeing them.

    I too am not a camper :)


    1. It's funny how we all have different fears. Snakes don't bother me (although I don't want them in my house). Lake Tahoe is stunning! My husband's family used to go there every year.

  2. Bears! Patrick and his family camped their way across the country this summer. At one point, he had not checked in with mom for 3 days and she contacted me, convinced they had been attacked by bears! (They had not of course.) As for my fears, ever since I was little, I have struggled with fears of someone breaking into my home and killing me. I don't like snakes either, but have lost some of my fear of them as Tabby and I have now killed several on our property.

    1. Lisa, yes to your fear--I have the same. As a kid I used to have a fear of being in the car, and having it roll away without anyone to catch it!

  3. At least you fear something that can kill you! I fear weird things like cockroaches and elevators. Neither will likely kill me, so it's kind of irrational.

  4. Well, Stephanie I wish I could say that bears are my only fear...but I'm also terrified of spiders and cockroaches. I don't think that's irrational at all! Ha!