17-year-old who pushed bear away from dogs in California says, ‘Don’t do what I did’
What would you do to defend your dogs against a large bear?
One 17-year old, Hailey Morinico, was shown on video dashing toward and pushing a bear off of her fence in a now-viral TikTok post.
The video, which has been viewed more than 68 million times, shows a bear climbing over a concrete fence and lunging at several dogs in the backyard. Morinico runs to the bear and pushes it off the fence with no hesitation.
The video, shot in Bradbury, California, started trending on Twitter, and many posters praised the woman’s quick reaction. Some users said the woman “handled the bear like a warrior.”
In a follow-up video, Morinico said she was protecting her “children.” She added that she lives in the mountains, where bear sightings are common.
She said she ran outside after hearing her dogs barking and at first thought the bear was a “funny-looking dog.” When she noticed it was a bear, she sprinted toward the animals.
“I go up to the bear, I look it in the eyes and the first thing I think to do is push it,” the woman said in the video.
Morinico said she pushed the bear only hard enough to make it lose its balance, and she sprained her finger and scraped her knee in the process. But overall she and her dogs were safe.
The National Park Service doesn’t advise pushing a bear; if you spot a bear you should first start speaking calmly so the bear realizes you are human and not an animal. A scream or sudden movement may trigger an attack, the park service says. It also recommends making yourself look as big as possible to the bear by moving to higher ground. If the bear stays still, you can slowly walk away, sideways, keeping an eye on the bear as you move.
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“And they are not inherently aggressive toward humans or our pets,” Rebecca Barboza, a wildlife biologist at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, told KCBS. “She was reacting to the perceived threat of the dogs, and if this animal was inherently aggressive, those dogs probably would have been attacked and not just swiped at.”
Morinico herself urged people to not follow her lead.
“Do not push bears,” Hailey told KTLA 5 . “Don’t do what I did. You might not have the same outcome.”
Follow Gabriela Miranda on Twitter: @itsgabbymiranda
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