Video: Pilates instructor and dog flee after bear approaches during workout

Imagine enjoying a relaxing Pilates session on a hill on a sunny summer afternoon, unaware that a large bear is coming up the slope towards you.

Jessica Gilpin, a 26-year-old Pilates instructor from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, found herself in this horrific scenario earlier this summer while caring for a friend’s dog named Django.

She was filming a YouTube training video at the top of a mountain bike training area in Canmore, a town on the edge of Banff National Park, when she heard some people yelling at her from a smaller training area, she said Newsweek.

“I initially thought maybe someone was trying to take advantage of the large area I was in,” she said. “It turns out they warned me about the bear.”

Those at the bottom of the hill had a clear view of the bear climbing up the front of the hill.

Jessica Gilpin works out on a mat.
Pilates instructor Jessica Gilpin does a workout move outside on an exercise mat, accompanied by her friend’s dog Django. Gilpin encountered an adult black bear while filming a training video in Canmore, Canada, this summer.
Provided by Jessica Gilpin

“I couldn’t hear where they were telling me the bear was coming from, just that a bear was coming toward me,” she said. “The hill was pretty steep,” so she couldn’t see the bear “until he was literally at the top of the hill with me.”

The Pilates instructor shared a video of the incident, which occurred in late August, on her TikTok account @movemountainspilateswhich received 5.3 million views since its initial publication on October 4th.

The post’s caption reads: “The wildest Pilates class experience ever…”

The post was shared just days after a couple and their dog were found hiking in a remote area of ​​Banff National Park after being mauled by a grizzly bear.

What to do if you see a bear in the wild?

Grizzly bears and black bears live in Canada’s mountain national parks. The Canadian government’s Parks Canada website states: “You can encounter a bear anywhere here, whether on a busy trail near the city or in the remote backcountry. Bears generally prefer to avoid people.”

“Although the chance of encountering an aggressive bear is low, good planning before setting out can help reduce the risk,” the website advises.

Make some noise to let the bears know you are there. “Shout, clap, sing or talk loudly, especially near streams, dense vegetation and berry patches, on windy days and in areas with poor visibility. Bear bells are not enough,” says Parks Canada.

Dogs should be left at home or kept on a leash at all times as they “can provoke defensive behavior in bears.”

If the bear doesn’t notice your presence

Parks Canada recommends moving away quietly without attracting the bear’s attention if it hasn’t noticed your presence.

When the bear is aware of your presence

Bears can “bluff” an encounter by charging ahead before turning away at the last second. They may also respond defensively by “wowling, growling, snapping their jaws and laying their ears back,” Parks Canada warns.

The website recommends doing the following if the bear has spotted you:

  • Stay calm. Calm behavior can calm the bear, while screaming or sudden movements can trigger an attack.
  • Speak to the bear calmly and firmly. “This lets the bear know that you are human and not prey. When a bear stands on its hind legs and wags its nose, it is trying to identify you,” says Parks Canada.
  • Back away slowly and never run, as running can trigger a chase.
  • Make a big impression, pick up small children and stay in the group.
  • Don’t drop your backpack because it offers protection.

When should bear spray be used?

Parks Canada says it’s a good idea to bring bear spray with you when traveling through the mountain parks, whether hiking, picnicking, camping, biking, trail running or paddling.

The website states that bear spray “can reduce your risk of injury if you enter into an aggressive encounter with a bear and/or other aggressive wildlife.”

However, bear spray should only be used as a “last resort” and you should first do everything you can to avoid an encounter with bears, the website says.

Black bear in Jasper National Park, Canada.
A stock image shows a black bear in Canada’s Jasper National Park.
iStock/Getty Images Plus

“My heart was racing”

Gilpin said that once she was warned about the bear, she quickly looked around and then released Django from the hook to which she had tied his leash.

“As soon as I untied him, the bear was with me about 15 feet away. So he looked like an adult black bear.” [it was] quite large.”

Gilpin continued: “I wasn’t thinking much at the moment other than ‘Wow, I can’t believe a bear just interrupted my video, that’s crazy’.”

“My heart was racing from the shock and the sudden closeness, but I knew all I could do was stay calm and walk away,” she said.

Leaving her belongings behind to avoid the risk of the bear approaching, Gilpin immediately led Django slowly down the slope of the hill, away from the bear, walking barefoot and “trying to remain calm so as not to startle the bear.” “.

“Luckily the bear didn’t seem interested in me, so I had no reason to completely freak out.”

She said: “Django is a very well behaved, calm dog” who never barks. His owner works as a cook in fishing huts, “so Django is used to being in the wild all the time and has even seen bears before, although I don’t think he’s ever been this close to one.”

Gilpin waited about 10 minutes on the gravel road next to the hill to give the bear “good time” to go back into the woods on the other side of the hill.

During that time, she said she was still shocked by what happened and thought she “should have brought my bear spray, but since I was literally in town at the time, I didn’t think to bring it.”

When she walked up the hill, her belongings were found untouched. She figured the bear must have gone into the forest because “Django was sniffing the trail down there.”

Although Gilpin has seen bears from afar before, the incident was one of her closest encounters.

“Living out here and hiking all the time, I’ve learned that you should stay calm and walk away slowly so as not to startle the animal,” she said. “Most of the time black bears just leave people alone, but when they don’t, you should make yourself big and loud to hopefully scare them away and defend yourself if necessary.”

“Luckily I never had to do that because I don’t think I could fight a bear at 5’7.”

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