Have you ever wondered what you would do if you were approached by a large, wild bear during a family picnic? What was captured on a now-viral video is probably not what your answer would be.
Kaitlyn Nesbit, a 29-year-old bridal store manager, was picnicking with her family when four relatives got a closer look at nature than they had probably ever imagined. The family’s up-close-and-personal wildlife encounter in Deep Creek, Maryland, was caught on video. After you see the footage, it’s easy to understand why it quickly went viral.
As four of Kaitlyn’s family members sat at a picnic table, they were suddenly greeted by an unexpected and hungry guest — a gregarious black bear, who decided to join the family for a snack. More shocking than the bear’s brave nature, however, is how the family reacted to the uninvited visitor.
In the wild 30-second video from Caters News Agency, the black bear — dubbed “Winnie the Moocher” by the New York Post — is seen casually joining the family at a picnic table in a remote woodland area at Deep Creek, where Kaitlyn Nesbit and her family had gathered. The curious and seemingly hungry creature is then filmed dipping into the party food, but it’s the family’s response that’s really dropping jaws.
As the bold beast nonchalantly helps itself to the Nesbits’ refreshments while sitting at the picnic table with them — just inches from the family members — not a single one of them seems alarmed. Although their apparent calm may seem odd to stunned viewers, Kaitlyn explained that it was definitely intentional.
“We were all told to not make sudden movements,” Kaitlyn Nesbit said, describing her family’s reaction to the massive black bear that crashed the party. Indeed, the National Park Service (NPS) does warn those who encounter a bear against running from the animal. However, they do recommend that you “move away slowly and sideways,” which “allows you to keep an eye on the bear and avoid tripping.”
That’s not what a few members of the Nesbit family decided to do, though. Although most of the family was “scared to death and filmed from the deck,” four brave souls “tested their luck,” Kaitlyn explained. Rather than try to make a quiet escape and retreat, some of Kaitlyn’s more adventurous and apparently fearless relatives saw it as an opportunity to take selfies with the furry intruder.
At one point, a bald man in a bandanna even taps the animal on its nose. Fortunately for all involved, the people who own the property said the bear is a regular who never bothers anybody, according to Kaitlyn. And, once the bear was done filling her belly, the animal left. “Eventually the momma just walked back into the woods unharmed,” Kaitlyn explained.
It’s worth noting, however, that bears buddying up to people doesn’t usually end well for either species. In one such encounter, an Alaska pizza delivery boy’s car was ransacked when a bear broke into the vehicle overnight, apparently hoping to find something to eat. In a more tragic encounter, an overly friendly black bear was castrated after sniffing a woman’s hair in a park in Mexico.
The operation was performed on the male black bear after a video circulated of him getting close to the woman at Chipinque Ecological Park in San Pedro Garza García, the New York Post reported. Concerned that the “friendly bear” had become too accustomed to humans, officials decided to castrate and relocate the animal, which weighed 212 pounds. The director-general for wildlife control explained that the bear was neutered before moving him to help prevent him from getting into fights with other bears.
As for the Nesbit family’s encounter, well, don’t try this at home — or anywhere you might encounter a bear. Instead, follow the NPS’s recommendations. Don’t run, but move away slowly and sideways, which is non-threatening to bears. The NPS also advises against pushing “your slower friends down in attempts of saving yourself,” but that’s another story. “Stay calm and remember that most bears do not want to attack you,” NPS explained. “They usually just want to be left alone” — or to grab a quick snack and go on their way, like this one.