Crawling under a porch to confront a 500-pound black bear with a paintball gun might seem badass — a least to hordes of social media fans who don’t know much about one of the planet’s apex predators — but Wyoming people who know about bears say it’s just plain stupid.
A video shot the day after Christmas in the Lake Tahoe, Nevada, area has gone viral on some social media platforms with many calling a guy who goes into an enclosed crawlspace to flush out a large bear armed with nothing but a paintball gun a “badass.”
A few seconds after he disappears from view, a series of pops can be heard, indicating several rapid-fire shots from the paintball gun.
Moments later, a gigantic, startled-looking bear comes barreling out of the small crawlspace opening and apparently runs away. The man emerges shortly thereafter, remarking that the bear must have been “500 pounds.”
The video has been circulating under the title “Balls of Steel.”
Don’t Try This At Home – Yours Or Anybody Else’s
Dan Thompson, a large carnivore specialist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, told Cowboy State Daily that the guy shouldn’t be hailed in any way for doing something so stupid.
He said a colleague had sent him the video and what’s depicted in it isn’t advisable for anyone, he said.
“Going into a confined space with a bear — regardless of species — is not something the public can or should do in an attempt to resolve a conflict situation,” he said.
It’s a job best left to professionals, and a task that Thompson and his peers have lots of experience with in Wyoming. Game and Fish and other wildlife agencies were busy this past spring and summer responding to black bear conflict calls around Wyoming and neighboring states.
In most cases, the bears were tranquilized, trapped and relocated. In a few instances, wildlife agents opted to kill bears that had numerous run-ins with people.
Frequently, bears get into trouble because people aren’t cautious with storing food, garbage and other temptations, Thompson has told Cowboy State Daily.
“In a big picture sense, we are still seeing the impacts of increased human use of black bear habitats over the past few years, with many instances of bears obtaining food rewards,” he said.
‘I wouldn’t Have Done That’
Joe Kondelis, an avid black bear hunter and bear conservationist from Cody, has had countless encounters in the wild with black bears and grizzlies.
So, while cautiously respectful of bears, he’s not really scared of them. But what he saw in the video was just too much, Kondelis told Cowboy State Daily.
“I wouldn’t have done that. That’s a huge bear!” he said.
While it’s apparent the guy in Nevada startled the bear into leaving, he easily could’ve been attacked in that crawlspace and become bear food.
‘Brains Of Pudding’
Paul Ulrich of Pinedale frequently hunts, hikes and goes fishing in bear country. He told Cowboy State Daily that bravery is one thing, but the man’s actions in the video are just plain foolhardy.
“Sure, you can label the video ‘Balls of Steel,’ but it’s clearly ‘Brains of Pudding’ as well,” he said.
If a bear is lurking on your property, going after it in a crawlspace with a paintball gun is not the best option — or even really a sane option at all, he added.
“I would submit that there are other ways of getting a bear out of your crawlspace than actually crawling in there with it,” he said.
Mark Heinz can be reached at email@example.com.