Humboldt County’s favorite naturalist John “Griff” Griffith is back with another informative video chat from Humboldt Redwoods Sate Park.
During the chat, Griff riffs about a recent viral video that reportedly shows a teenager pushing a mother cinnamon black bear off of a wall in LA County to protect her dogs.
The original video, which was posted to TikTok a week ago, has amassed more than 70 million views on the social media app alone. In response to this video, Griff decided to give park visitors some tips on how to handle a black bear encounter.
“Black bears very rarely ever attack people,” Griff said. “If there is a bear that’s gonna attack you, it’s probably because it’s a bear that’s been fed regularly.”
Griff’s first tip is to never feed wildlife.
“Please do not feed wildlife, because what happens is they get food-conditioned on humans,” he said. “They see humans and they associate them with food. A lot of times they develop ‘demand behaviors.’ A demand behavior may involve something like a bear coming right up to you and hitting your pocket to see if there’s food coming out of the pocket.”
Griff’s second tip is to be stern.
“When you come to the park and see a bear, [have your] biggest person up front, arms big, and talk to the bear very sternly like: ‘Bear, I don’t want you to come over here next to my family!’” he said. “And then the bear will usually leave.”
As a last resort, Griff said you can try throwing a rock at the bear’s keister.
“Then go sideways and slowly return from whence you came,” Griff added. “Do not run, do not get too crazy, don’t challenge the bear to attack you. Do not let your dog go up to it. You just want to leave the bear alone.”
Watch Griff’s full list of tips and the viral encounter that sparked this discussion in the videos embedded at the top of this story.