Dangerously Close Bear Encounter

This week's Animal Oddity is about an odd animal encounter.

Here at National Wildlife Federation, we're all about encouraging people to get outside into nature and observe the wildlife all around them. We even have a program designed to help folks attract wildlife right to their yards, for which we teamed up with Animal Planet to create an entire TV series called Backyard Habitat.

But sometimes experiencing wildlife up close and personal is not a good thing.

Two Virginia men got the surprise of their lives recently when they headed out to a local pond to do some fishing. An unexpected visitor showed up, and they caught the entire encounter on video.

As the wildlife expert says in the video, these guys were extremely lucky. While this kind of odd animal encounter is undoubtedly thrilling, it could have turned out much differently if the bear was feeling more hungry or aggressive than curious. Black bears like the one in the video generally avoid people and attacks are extremely rare, but it's up to us to do whatever we can to prevent close encounters.

When it comes to bears, it's all about appreciating them from afar and never feeding them or otherwise making them associate people with food, which causes "habituation," where they lose their natural fear of people. What that happens, the likelihood of close encounters, attacks on people and ultimately animal mortality all increase. This goes for any other potentially dangerous wildlife, whether it's mountain lions, alligators, moose, or really any animal that can bite, scratch, kick or otherwise injure or kill a person.

Here's a video about grizzly bear behavior and attacks that sheds some light onto how and why these bears might go after a human.

Find out more about bears, bear attacks and how to avoid conflict with these large, powerful mammals.

Symbolically adopt a black bear with the National Wildlife Federation.

As always, get the latest odd animal stories, news, behaviors and videos from my Animal Planet blog, Animal Oddities.