Black bear spotted on Holly’s Trail

PARK CITY, Utah — A trail runner encountered a curious black bear on Holly’s Trail near Canyons Base Area late last week.

Robert Ahlstrom, a Northern California resident, was visiting Park City for a conference last Friday when he decided to go for a run on Holly’s Trail at approximately 6 p.m.

Ahlstrom had reached the end of the trail and was about halfway back down to the trailhead when he encountered the bear.

“I came around a corner in the trail and I just saw a bear, I’d say about 10 to 15 feet in front of me,” Ahlstrom said. “It’s hard to estimate exactly how close, but it felt very close.”

Ahlstrom stopped when he saw the bear, which turned and began to walk toward the trailhead. The bear walked about 10 feet further before if turned back around to face Ahlstrom, and began to walk toward him in a non-threatening manner.

“Slowly, sort of curiously, not threatening to me at all,” Ahlstrom said. “But at that point I started thinking, ‘what am I supposed to do in this situation?’ I have heard that you’re supposed to try to make yourself big and make noises, so I probably looked pretty stupid, but that’s what I tried to do.”

Although the bear continued to walk toward Ahlstrom, it eventually turned around when he began to make enough noise.

“I could see it kind of lumbering off up towards the hills, and off the trail behind the corner,” Ahlstrom said. “And at that point… I just ran back to to the hotel.”

An eyewitness also reported seeing two black bears up Armstrong Trail late last month.

Know what to do if you encounter a bear.

  • Stand your ground: Never back up, lie down or play dead. Stay calm and give the bear a chance to leave. Prepare to use your bear spray or another deterrent.

  • Don’t run away or climb a tree. Black bears are excellent climbers and can run up to 35 mph — you cannot outclimb or outrun them.

  • Know bear behavior. If a bear stands up, grunts, moans or makes other sounds, it’s not being aggressive. These are the ways a bear gets a better look or smell and expresses its interest.

  • If a black bear attacks, always fight back. And never give up! People have successfully defended themselves with almost anything: rocks, sticks, backpacks, water bottles and even their hands and feet.

When to report a bear sighting. 

If you see a bear in the foothills or in the canyon areas report it to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources only if it is aggressive, or if it’s getting into trash or fruit trees. Report any bear that has wandered into lower elevation areas and is within city limits or heavily-populated areas.

Find more tips to avoiding conflict with black bears here.

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