5 Times in 2017 That Nature Outmatched Humans

Other than wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and the like. Monday, 8 April 2019

By Elaina Zachos

Humans are super-predators. We have the potential to wipe out populations of flora and fauna, and human-induced pollution tinges our planet from the sky to the sea. So sometimes it's healthy to have a reminder that nature's still the one pulling the strings.

For that reason, we've compiled a list of the top times in 2017 that Mother Nature showed us she's still in charge.

That Time When a Bear Went After a Car

Alaska is bear country. It's common to see these furry giants frequenting the area, but being mauled by a bear is highly unusual.

In this video, two people driving in Alaska almost had a bear-induced brush with death. The pair slowed down when they saw a brown bear gallop across the two-lane road in front of them. The bear disappeared into the woods as they passed, but then came barreling out and began chasing after their car.

When they're nervous, bears will burst out in bluff charges, in which they sprint toward threats, with a series of pounces, before suddenly stopping short. They are often seen lumbering, but bears can run at up to 30 miles per hour (faster than people).

No matter where you live, the chances you'll get attacked by a bear are slim. But if you're still worried, here are some tips on how not to die.

When a Cougar Came a Little Too Close for Comfort

Whereas bears can be relatively common in some parts of North America, big cats tend to be rarely seen. But the elusive animals are always watching.

Here, two hikers in California were a little unnerved when they learned they had a feline creeper. On a hike back to their campsite, the pair spotted something stirring on the trail ahead of them. Thinking it was a non-threatening fox or bobcat, they began to follow the creature as it disappeared around the bend. But when they looked up, they saw the same animal—a full-grown cougar—had climbed onto a rock overhead and was curiously taking them in from its 15-foot perch.

The hikers and the cat stared at each other for about half an hour. Eventually, the humans turned back and found a different campsite for the night. When they returned the next day, the cat had disappeared completely, leaving only a few telltale paw prints in the dirt.

Cougars, also known as mountain lions, hunt by ambushing their prey, which is usually deer. In the unlikely event you spot one of these elusive stalkers in the wild, the best thing to do is make yourself as big as possible by waving your hands or holding your backpack above your head.

When the Ground Ate Homes in Florida

Sinkholes can swallow up stretches of the Earth in minutes. Since Florida rests on a rock layer of mostly sedimentary limestone and dolostone, the state is prime acreage for these sudden cavities.

Over summer 2017, a series of sinkholes like the one in this video plagued the Sunshine State. Local outlets reported two homes, a boat, a driveway, and a road were casualties to the natural phenomenon.

In the clip, the ground opens up and swallows the living room of this family's home in a town north of Tampa. The front exterior wall gives way and plops into a frothing mud pit, leaving the house's white shutters and detached cords swaying in the breeze. A few minutes later, the roof collapses into the pit.

No one was hurt when the house was destroyed, and others in the area were promptly evacuated.

Sinkholes are common in areas where groundwater has dissolved underlying rock, like after heavy rains or when construction drains water out of the ground. Without rock to support it, the soil layer caves in, creating a crater.

Currently, there's no way to stop sinkholes from forming. They may be getting more coverage now than in the past, but scientists can't confirm the phenomenon is becoming more widespread.

When a Sleeping Teen Almost Got Eaten By a Bear

But that's what happened to one camp counselor in Colorado this summer. While snoozing under the stars in the mountains near Boulder County, the 19-year-old was startled when he woke up to a black bear dragging him from his sleeping bag. As the bear tugged at his head, the counselor and four other campers tried to fight the animal off.

The counselor says he was dragged about 12 feet before he was able to free himself from the bear's jaws. At a nearby hospital, staff stapled up the wounds on his head.

Although the chances of being injured (let alone eaten) by a bear are one in 2.7 million, black bears have a varied diet. In addition to fish and mammals, they normally munch on grasses, roots, berries, and insects. But with increasing human contact, the bears can easily develop a taste for our food.

This attack happened in July, which can be a difficult month for bears to find food. It's the seasonal in-between after spring vegetation dries out and August berries are yet to bloom, so the opportunistic omnivores have a trickier time finding food.

"It sounds like a predatory attack," bear expert Dave Garshelis told National Geographic in July. "I assume the bear was intent on killing and eating that guy."

When an Angry Mama Moose Charged a Woman and Her Dog

In addition to hungry bears, it seems Colorado is also home to aggressive moose.

In this video, a woman and her dog were out for a walk when they crossed paths with a mama moose and its two young calves. The woman backs away as the huge animals pursue her. When the moose charges, the woman throws something in its direction in an attempt to fend it off. The moose, which can weigh almost a ton, breaks off and lumbers away with its calves.

A moose can be very protective of its young. They're the biggest deer species and their massive antlers can span 6 feet end to end. Like the brown bear in Alaska, moose are prone to bluff charges meant to intimidate intruders.

If you're ever attacked by a moose, it's best to run. They can burst at 35 miles per hour at short distances, but the animals won't give chase for very long.