A bear walks into a backyard while... While it might sound like an opening to a joke, it was a reality for one North Carolina homeowner—and the home's Ring camera captured it all. The homeowner was enjoying some me-time on his lounger when he came face-to-face with a large black bear.
The Asheville homeowner, David Oppenheimer, was scrolling through his phone on his porch when his Ring camera app alerted him to motion and a possible bear. But everything looked clear. Oppenheimer went back to his phone, and the bear appeared seconds later. He told USA Today, "I was a little frightened because it was right there, and I didn't know what it would do."
Viewers can see Oppenheimer's shocked expression when he notices the bear inches away from him. He even jumped a little, picking up his pillow in defense (or, really, in "defense"). "It was right in front of me," he told the news outlet. "We immediately made eye contact."
Thankfully, the bear clearly was equally disturbed to be face-to-face with a human and the stressful encounter only lasted a few seconds. It turns around, heading back the way it came.
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Oppenheimer says it's not the first time the bear has visited his backyard. He told USA Today that the furry mammal had been eating out of his bird feeder earlier in the day and had attempted to get into the neighbor's trash can.
North Carolinians often see the bears wandering around, and Oppenheimer said the black bears frequent the neighborhood. In fact, North Carolina has the highest black bear densities in the world and the biggest, according to the North Carolina Wildlife Federation.
"We are all used to them. They really don't want to bother people," Oppenheimer said, adding that while the surprise visitor started him, if he had seen it coming, he would've been more calm.
Of course, calm is the best way to be when it comes to black bears. Unlike their fierce brown and white cousins, black bears aren't particularly fierce and would rather avoid people.
Right now, bears are coming out of hibernation, which makes sightings more frequent. The National Park Service offers plenty of advice on bear encounters, including not pushing down a slower friend (har har).
However, being aware and avoiding the bear before they see you is the best way to stay safe. If an interaction is unavoidable, the NPS says on their website to stand still but slowly wave your arms, and most importantly, don't run or climb a tree. Bears are excellent climbers and very fast runners.
They are naturally curious and, despite their intimidating size, don't want to attack you. In Oppenheimer's case, they may just be curious what you're reading about.