Snowboarders in Truckee, California made friends with a bear on the slopes in a video that has captured the minds of the internet.
A video posted earlier this week on YouTube and Instagram shows an adorable brown bear cub sniffing someone’s legs. Brian Jordan, who shared the video, wrote on Instagram that it appeared the cub’s “momma was on vacation,” but it was “too cool not to say whaddup.” The video became so popular that it’s been licensed by WorldStar, a content aggregating social media page, according to Jordan’s post.
If you see a bear alone on a mountain, it’s probably not a good idea to try to snuggle with it.
But if you do encounter a bear, according to the National Park Service’s bear guidelines, it’s important to stay calm. “Remain still,” the guidelines recommend, “stand your ground, but slowly wave your arms.”
Perhaps this bear who achieved internet stardom is sweeter than most. The bear was spreading some extra love all over Jordan’s roommate, according to the caption in the YouTube video.
Watch the full encounter in the YouTube video.
Naturally, the man called the cub “Smokey,” and it seems like they’re already the best of friends.
But conservationists say it’s encounters with humans like this one that can be detrimental for bear development — if a bear thinks all humans are friends, that can potentially put both species in danger. “The concern is that larger bears behaving in this manner can be a risk to people and often it is the bear that ends up being removed due to these types of behaviors,” explains Jon Beckmann, science director for the Rocky Mountain West Program at the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Beckmann also told TIME in an email that in a similar situation, anyone who is skiing or snowboarding should try to prevent a bear from approaching. “Studies have shown that skiers, particularly backcountry skiers, can cause bears to abandon dens during the winter,” he said.
Bears are beginning to emerge from their dens for spring around now, so it’s good for anyone in the wilderness to be up on the protocol.
The reason this chance meeting could have taken place, Beckmann said, may be because of human behavior after all. “This encounter may also be the product of people feeding bears intentionally in this area, something that should never be done,” he warned.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has taken this cub in for evaluation, NBC News 4 reports.
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