Bear chases man skiing
A skier was aggressively chased down a mountain by a brown bear on the weekend of 23rd January, in a ski resort called Predeal in Romania. The episode was captured on multiple different videos by fellow skiers watching helplessly.
When you set off on a ski holiday, one thing for sure is that you will get inundated with countless pieces of advice and personal experiences from people who have gone before - everyone likes to be known as a skier and to share their advice, as useless as it may be. One thing I can absolutely guarantee nobody will warn you about, or even contemplate the idea of there being a risk of this, is the hot pursuit of skiers by a brown bear in popular, tourist destination ski resorts.
Bear chasing skier in Romania
This is exactly what happened in the small resort of Predeal in Romania. Video footage shows a brown bear running at full speed chasing an innocent and seemingly unaware skier (to begin with anyway) down the ski run. If anyone ever needed motivation to pick up their skiing speed a bit and reach the bottom of the mountain that bit quicker, here is the answer. If anything is going to make you point your skis downhill and ski like your life depended on it, a brown bear will be near the top of that list.
In the video uploaded all over the internet, a whole host of skiers and snowboarders can be seen on the chairlift, travelling back up to the top of the mountain. Personally, that is not the direction I would like to be heading when there is, in plain sight, a brown bear chasing skiers around the mountain. I'm not sure what would have been going through their minds knowing they have to navigate an obviously hungry bear in order to get to safety at the bottom of the mountain. These fellow skiers were shouting at the skier in danger to warn him about the imminent threat just 50m behind him, and warning him that for the sake of him life he had better not fall!
The skiers and snowboarders on the chairlifts can be heard trying to distract the bear with shouting and whistling to draw the bears attention away from the skier fleeing for his life, but to little avail. The bear continued in hot pursuit of the skier. Frighteningly the bear appeared to be making ground on the skier, leading to the skier making a quick decision to abandon his back pack as a distraction for the bear which worked to distract the bear for just enough time to allow the skier to get to safety.
Interestingly the slope that this event occurred on was actually closed at the time of the incident. There had been several reports of bear sightings on this very slope just earlier that day, therefore it may seem unsurprising that when someone decides to ignore these warnings due to a bear sighting, that they then end up getting chased by a bear. Bear sightings in these areas are not uncommon each year, and there are around 6000 brown bears living in Romania. While it is unlikely to come across a brown bear in this fashion and be chased by one, I think everyone will now be aware of one of the dangers of skiing in Romania and generally hiking or spending time in the Romanian mountains! Upon hearing of the huge brown bear heading for the bottom of the mountain, all the skiers reportedly abandoned their skis and their day of skiing to run for safety – a wise move.
Bear populations in mountains across Europe have declined significantly over the past 100 or so years, primarily due to hunting and habitat loss. The risk of crossing paths with a bear of any sort is negligible when skiing in Europe. Although small and growing populations of bears do exist in Europe (there have been recent efforts to reintroduce bears to the like of the Pyrenees, a mountain range found between France and Spain, where around 50 bears live).
The Romanian government have recently introduced a law since 2019 legalising the hunting of brown bears in order to curtail their numbers. Brown bear numbers have been significantly increasing over recent years. Bear sightings are becoming more and more common, more and more brown bears are interfering with crops and day to day activities of the Romanian people in villages. Brown bears go into hibernation during the long winter months, therefore their only mission in the lead up to winter is to fatten up as much as possible. The recent law passed in September 2019 will allow brown bear hunting for the next 5 years to help ease numbers. As expected, this has been met with opposition from conservationists.