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Steve Rinella Explains: Fear of Bears

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Ever wonder why we have an innate fear of grizzlies? Steve Rinella thinks it’s part-psychological, part-genetic. Here’s why.

Steve Rinella is walking through the backcountry when he comes upon a tree with grizzly bear claw marks far above his head. He reaches his hand up to try to touch the scratches in the bark. The act compels Rinella to think about our fear of grizzlies and where it comes from.

After all, he says, the numbers show that the chance of your average American having a bad encounter with a grizzly is very remote. Bowhunters and hunters in the backcountry have a slightly higher chance, but it’s still a pretty small number.

But the threat is, he says, really as much a psychological threat as it is a physical threat. We generally don’t think of falling off a ladder or dying in our bathtubs. The fact that we climb ladders and take showers all the time attests to that.

But, when we see evidence of a grizzly beara scratched tree, scat, prints, a recent bear killwe automatically think, I better be careful, or I could end up being mauled by a grizzly.

Although our fear is, in some ways, blown out of proportion, bears are a real threat. Several people just this year have been mauled by bears. A mountain biker was recently attacked and killed by a grizzly bear in Glacier National Park.

But the fear of grizzlies goes deeper than that, believes Rinella. It may be genetic: the way a child negatively reacts to a spider, we have within us a deeply ingrained fear of bears that comes from our early history of living and fighting with bears. At least, that’s Rinella’s thought.

This video of a couple of hunters talking about recovering an elk kill from a grizzly demonstrates that very real and genetic or psychological fear as well. As they describe how to go about reclaiming an elk from a bear, you cannot help but imagine the encounter.

Be careful out there, but don’t let fear rule your emotions or prevent you from enjoying the great outdoors. Carry bear spray and a gun.

Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.

NEXT: Grizzly Kills Mountain Biker Outside Glacier National Park

Steve Rinella Explains: Fear of Bears