GREAT FALLS – Master Sergeant Anthony Richards’ son recently expressed desire for some father-son camping around Montana.
“Blaise asked me to bring him camping. We go camping often as a family, but he wanted to go out father-son. He wants to go into the deeper woods and this opportunity presented itself,” Richards said.
So in preparation, Richards took his son to a bear awareness presentation held on Malmstrom Air Force Base by U.S. Forest Service Bear Education & Outreach Specialist Sara Sylte.
“The reality is we have a lot more bears than we ever use to,” Sylte said.
She added north-central Montana is becoming a hot spot for bears and one reason Malmstrom has more presentations is so airmen are prepared for an encounter while on the job or in their personal lives.
“Your chances of encountering one even out at your open missile sites is getting greater and greater every year,” Sylte said.
Airmen learned about bear behaviors and what to do if they encounter the animal in the wild.
“I learned about the predatory bears compared to the defensive bear. I never heard it talked about so in depth before. To understand the types of bears and what they could do is very important,” Richards said.
Richards added he has taken classes before, but this was a new experience for Blaise.
“I learned many things. I learned how to recognize a different type of bear. I also learned how to use bear spray, which I did not know how to,” Blaise said.
Once the presentation was over, airmen used bear spray on a 2-D bear that was “charging” them.
Both father and son said they feel more comfortable camping, but realize bears are a threat.
Reporting by Margaret DeMarco for MTN News