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July 28, 2017

#BearWatch2017: What to do when a bear attacks, in poem form

Wildlife Animals
01222015_bear_maine_AP Robert F. Bukaty, File/AP

A black bear in captivity waits for visitors to throw food into his pen at the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, Maine.

In our continuing coverage of #BearWatch2017, we go to South Jersey, where we learn what to do when a bear attacks in the form of a rousing screed that would make Gen. Patton proud.

A black bear was spotted Wednesday evening in the area of Barton Run Boulevard and Jessica Court in Evesham Township, police said. CBS3 talked to a homeowner who took a video of the bear in a wooded area behind his house, as well as other neighbors who shared their thoughts on the bear in their midst.

In terms of bear sightings, this one is pretty run of the mill — the bear wasn't breaking into a car or having sex or playing a tune

But what did catch my attention was the Evesham Township Police Department's Facebook post about the bear, which includes a how-to on surviving an encounter with a bear that sort of reads like a war poem, in both form and content:

If You Encounter a Bear…

Remain calm and avoid sudden movements.

Give the bear plenty of room, allowing it to continue its activities undisturbed. If it changes its behavior, you're too close so back away.

If you see a bear but the bear doesn't see you, detour quickly and quietly.

If a bear spots you, try to get its attention while it is still farther away. You want it to know you're human so talk in a normal voice and waive your arms.

Remember that a standing bear is not always a sign of aggression. Many times, bears will stand to get a better view.

Throw something onto the ground (like your camera) if the bear pursues you, as it may be distracted by this and allow you to escape.

Never feed or throw food to a bear.

If a Bear Charges…

Remember that many bears charge as a bluff. They may run, then veer off or stop abruptly. Stand your ground until the bear stops, then slowly back away.

Here's where it gets good:

Never run from a bear! They will chase you and bears can run faster than 30 mph.

Don't run towards or climb a tree. Black bears and some grizzlies can climb trees, and many bears will be provoked to chase you if they see you climbing.

If you have pepper spray, be sure that you have trained with it before using it during an attack.

If a Bear Attacks…

Be loud, waive your arms, and stand your ground.

Fight back! Be aggressive and use any object you have.

Only if you are sure the bear attacking is a mother who is protecting its cubs, play dead.

If you have pepper spray, use it. Begin spraying when it's within 40 ft so it runs into the fog. Aim for the face.

Kudos to whichever communications officer for Evesham police wrote this. (In all seriousness, those guidelines are exactly what wildlife officials recommend in the event of a black bear attack.) Also, as much as reading that may make you want to personally challenge a bear (particularly "Fight back!"), I can not stress enough that you should never, ever approach a bear. Ever.

This has been the latest edition of #BearWatch2017.