bears Colorado

A giant bear sculpture seems to peer into the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

A newly posted video of a Florida family’s trip to Colorado back in 2009 has gone viral thanks to their little’s boy’s fear of a bear that was not on the road. As Matt Mauny writes for the Orlando Sentinel, Austin Golden was a 3-year-old in a child car seat as the family was arriving at the zoo in Colorado Springs.

After hearing the car’s GPS say “bear right,” Austin panicked, believing that meant there was a bear outside the right side of the car. When his parents ask him what he is upset about, he says: “Bear problem.” When his sister, Abby, sitting to his left, confirmed to Austin that he was indeed on the right side of the back seat, he began crying in fear.

His sister teased him and his father and mother tried to reassure him that the bears in the zoo are in cages, Jordan Jackson wrote for Today. Toward the end of the 4-minute-long video, little Austin said he wanted to see a “nice bear” in the zoo.

Chip Golden, the boy’s father, found the video recently while cleaning out some old items, and decided to post it online. As April 4, the video had garnered more than 260,000 views. Chip Golden told Today that Austin loves that the video is online, and has shown it to his whole class.

Spotting Real Bears

For anyone who does see a bear or other animals on a road, the Colorado Parks & Wildlife website offers tips for avoiding collisions with wildlife on the state’s highways and other roads. If you want to see bears (and other wildlife) in Colorado without getting out of the car, Colorado.com has the following suggestions, saying that all you need besides a vehicle is a pair of binoculars:

  • State Forest Park, near Walden, was named the official moose capital of Colorado, but also features black bears, elk, mule deer, beavers, foxes, and eagles.
  • San Juan Skyway is the home to some black bears, plus elk, foxes, eagles, goshawks, red-tailed hawks, bluebirds, and kestrels.

What Should You Do if You See a Bear?

Last August, Kirk Mitchell and Kieran Nicholson wrote for The Denver Post that bears had been seen in Denver because of what they called “a localized food failure” in northeast Colorado. Bears were not finding enough of their mainstay chokecherries, berries, apples, acorns, and mountain mahogany. There also were unexpected bear sightings around that time in Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, Parker, Wheat Ridge, and Boulder at that time, Mitchell and Nicholson reported.

The National Park Service has some advice about what you should do if you see a bear, including speaking to it calmly to distinguish yourself from prey, and making yourself seem as large as possible.

Or you could take Emma Rathbone’s humorous advice that appeared last year in The New Yorker. It includes:

[…] stick your arms out to make yourself look bigger and back away slowly. But not too slowly. If you back away too slowly, black bears will think you are simply delicious. The last thing you want is for a black bear to think that. If you happen to have a neon traffic cone, go ahead and put it between you and the bear.

Viral Video

Here is the video that has gone viral, of little Austin afraid that there is a bear outside the family’s car in Colorado Springs:

Image by Kevin Williams, used under Creative Commons license.