Submitted by Appalachia Georgia Friends of the Bears
As if we do not have enough human issues when it comes to Human-Bear Conflict, Hollywood once again adds fuel to the fire by their latest bear exploitation film Cocaine Bear. Educating humans against the myths, stereotypes, and outright lies about black bears is difficult enough without the sensationalism of the media and Hollywood using their endless resources to pile on to what is a human problem.
The movie is loosely based on a series of crimes committed by a former U.S. Army paratrooper, Lexington, Kentucky Narcotic Task member, Attorney, and apparent adrenaline junkie. His criminal career culminated in his failed attempt to parachute to safety from his smuggling aircraft on September 11, 1985. The only basis in fact that the movie or the real incident have in common is that a male American Black Bear ingested cocaine in a remote section of Fannin County. In reality, the 175 lbs., not 500 lbs., bear died within minutes of eating approximately 20 grams of cocaine, not going on a cocaine fueled killing spree.
The American public is already poorly informed and ignorant when it comes to wildlife, but especially black bears. We are already concerned that our residents and visitors will overreact when they encounter one in the wild and harm the bear.
Consider this, since 1970, only 140 humans have been killed by Polar, Brown, and Black Bears in the wild, circuses, privately owned, and in zoos in North America since 1970. In comparison, 1,407 humans died in car accidents in Georgia just in 2022 alone. From 2010-2022, 618 humans died because of fatal dog attacks in the U.S. From 2017-2022, 231 children died in the U.S. because their parent or guardian left them in a hot car.
Be educated! If you encounter a bear in the wild, do not panic! If you see it before it sees you, stop, then quietly and slowly back away while facing the bear. If the bear sees you, hold up your arms to make yourself look bigger and yell, “Hey bear!” until it leaves. If you have a child with you, hold them by the hand and keep them close. Maintain control of your dog. Keep it on a leash or leave it at home.
Do not allow it to interact with the bear. If you are with a group, stand close together. Never, ever run! This may trigger their chase instinct. Have bear spray on your person, easily accessible, and know how to use it! If the black bear makes physical contact with you, do not play dead, and aggressively fight back!
Encourage family and friends to rely on trusted sources to educate them about wildlife and our American Black Bears. Your correct knowledge will likely save a bear’s life!
The Appalachia Georgia Friends of the Bears is a 501(c)(3) non-profit whose mission is to reduce Human-Bear conflict through proactive educational outreach programs, increasing public awareness about coexisting with black bears, the use of humane bear deterrents, and advocacy. Visit them at https://agfriendsofthebears.com or their partners at BearWise.org.