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Q: Let’s say I am hiking in the woods and I see you at a distance in the direction my hike is taking me. You don’t seem to notice me. Do I sit perfectly still until you are gone? Make noise to possibly make you aware of me hoping that you will run away? Backtrack and try to find a path that detours around the area where you are?—Eddie Jayne, via email
A: If you see me from a distance and I don’t notice, congratulations: You’ve just completed a life-list wildlife sighting. Everybody knows how majestic and beautiful I am, so take a minute and enjoy the sight. People spend thousands of dollars trying to see me (trust me, I’m worth it).
But your next action is very important. If I don’t notice you, you should not disturb me. Leave the area quietly, and if you have to continue on, make a very wide detour of me so that I won’t notice. If a detour isn’t possible, turn back and pick another trail.
Now you have factual proof that you’re in bear territory, so once I’m out of sight, you should resume making loud human noises to alert me to your presence. I’ll stay away, you’ll return safely to civilization, and best of all you’ll have a hiking slideshow everyone will actually want to see because of—you guessed it—me.
Got a question for the bear? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.