Weird & Wild

Watch a Swedish Man Repel a Bear Attack

Viral video shows the right way to deal with a charging Eurasian brown bear.

A man in Sweden turns the tables on an Eurasian brown bear.


Sweden’s brown bears are usually shy, secretive animals. But occasionally they have run-ins with people, as a video going viral this week illustrates in dramatic fashion.

In the video, a man identified by other media  as Ralph Persson is walking with his spouse in the snow-covered woods when the pair is approached by a bounding bear.

As the animal comes within a few paces of Persson, he makes himself appear larger by stretching out his arms and yelling at the bear. The bear turns a quick 180 degrees and retreats into the woods.

Eurasian brown bears (Ursus arctos) generally live in the northern half of Sweden, as well as in several other countries. Several thousand are thought to live in Sweden, with their population increasing in recent years thanks to decreased hunting pressure.

John Beecham, co-chair of the Human-Bear Conflicts Expert Team of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Bear Specialist Group previously told National Geographic that traveling with at least one other person is a good idea in bear country.

Beecham suggests carrying bear spray, which is akin to pepper spray for people, and making noise while walking through dense forests or other areas with low visibility, to avoid startling bears. Spray should ideally be carried in your hands, so you don’t waste precious seconds digging it out of a pack, he adds.

Beecham says bears will occasionally approach people to test their strength, as they would another bear. Actually getting physically attacked is quite rare, but people can reduce the chances by making themselves appear larger and yelling.

“From this video I cannot tell what initiated the encounter with the bear,” says Kati Loeffler, a Massachusetts-based veterinarian and advisor to the International Fund for Animal Welfare. “The important thing is to be cognizant of, and respectful, to avoid surprising animals.”

Above all, don’t run from a bear, which can prompt it to chase you, says David Telesco, coordinator of the Bear Management Program for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. (These tourists at Yellowstone National Park did it wrong.)

It’s also not a good idea to play dead, which can pique the animal’s curiosity, or to look it directly in the eye, which can be seen as a threat, says Telesco.

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Check out this recent video about Utah's bear mystery.

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