Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
“Don’t feed the bears,” they say. Well, “they” are wrong. Admit it – you’ve always wanted to. Just look at that big ‘ol fuzzy face. It’s like your dog, but bigger. And fuzzier. And you just know it’s hungry. So, just this once, we’re abandoning our post as the hall monitors of bear safety and giving the people what they want. Sometimes, it’s okay to feed a bear. Here’s when.
1) You’re trying to reinforce your trust issues.
You can’t let your guard down around a bear. Even when he seems so sweet and well-mannered. Even if he calls when he says he’s going to call and compliments your cooking and seems like he’ll never turn against you. Like your ex, a bear is not to be trusted.
2) You want to support your local paramedics.
As a patriotic American citizen, you’re in favor of a thriving middle class. So you’re willing to do almost anything to keep members of the local medical community busy and employed. Even if that means sacrificing for the cause.
3) You want some cool scars
One time I was at a party, and a guy came in, ostensibly looking for love, and asked if there were any girls around with facial scars or lower back tattoos. If that guy’s your type, then a close bear encounter is your chance to reel him in.
4) You didn’t want that arm anyway.
As a dedicated backpacker, you know the benefits of cutting weight. Well, that right arm has been dragging you down all this time, and this is a great opportunity to give it up for good.
5) You can’t afford that kitchen demo job.
Give a bear a French fry, and he’s going to want some ketchup to go with it. And he can’t remember whether you keep it in the cabinet, the pantry, the dishwasher, or the freezer. He knows it’s probably best to ransack the place, just in case. Good thing you were planning on a remodel anyway.
6) You hate eating leftovers.
Don’t want last night’s dinner? Or the beer you’ve been dreaming about all day? Bears do.
7) You’ve never been able to find the right hood ornament.
Bears are well-versed in the transitive property. If food comes from people, and people come from cars, then food comes from cars. Jaguars are nice, but you know what’s bigger, louder, and flashier than a tiny chrome-polished cat? A bear. A live bear.
8) You hate that new car smell.
Bears accustomed to hand-outs are more likely to go searching for them in that beater you’ve been trying to turn over to insurance for a big payout. Bonus: Bears don’t pull over when they need to use the loo, either.
9) You actually just hate bears.
You stare into those big brown eyes, but you’re not fooled. Behind that curious nose-twitch and intelligent gaze is a monster, and you know it. So when the cub steps hesitantly up to you, drawn by the scent of the bratwurst you’ve just roasted over your campfire, you add a healthy dollop of mustard and relish and hand it right over. I’ve got you right where I want you, you think, suppressing maniacal laughter. Your camping buddies titter excitedly in the background. They think just one snack won’t hurt—besides, their Instagram accounts are going to totally blow up after this—but you know this sausage is a gateway to a short lifetime of “people food” cravings and recklessly close beainteractions with humans. After just one bite, this bear’s days are numbered.