A YOUNG boy has escaped a bear attack by keeping calm and following his family's instructions.
The 12-year-old boy, named Alessandro, was hiking with some adults in the Brenta Dolomites, northern Italy, when he made the close encounter.
But unlike many others who would have panicked in that situation, he managed to keep calm and slowly walked away, avoiding any danger.
A clip of the incident shows the brave boy walking away while the bear follows him about two metres behind.
The person filming the video can be heard saying: "Come Ale [Italian diminutive of Alessandro], don't turn your back at him.
As he walks down the hill, Alessandro constantly checks the bear's movements.
When the bear stands on its hind legs, the boy nervously calls for his mum, who tells him to keep walking and avoid any panic.
However, the animal eventually stops and changes its direction, seemingly investigating a bush.
Local newspaper L'Adige reports that the boy actually asked his family to film the scene.
Alessandro's mum told the publication: "The bear came close to us but it looked like our presence was irrelevant to it."
"The animal then changed direction," she said, adding that the bear did not show any sign of aggressive behaviour.
Alessandro said: "I had already seen the bear three times before, but that was a special day for me."
He also added he was not scared when he made the close encounter.
It is believed the same bear had got close to two other hikers earlier this Spring, according to La Repubblica.
Luigi Boitani, a zoologist at La Sapienza University in Rome, said the video is a proof people and animals can coexist peacefully.
He added: "People and bears can meet without any accidents.
"It is important to know how to behave [in these situations]."
Although bear attacks are rare, they have happened before in the same Italian region, Trentino Alto Adige.
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In the summer of 2014, a mushroom picker came into close contact with a female bear and two cubs. He was injured in the incident, although not seriously.
In another occasion, a young man managed to escape after being hit by a bear's paw.
When coming close to bears, hikers should always avoid running and attracting them with any scents.
How to avoid a bear attack
Don't attract them
Bears have a strong sense of smell and love humans' food, so the main strategy to avoid any attack is to minimise any scents while hiking.
Travel in groups
A bear is more likely to retreat if it sees or smells several people walking towards it than if a single person approaches it.
Be alert for signs of bears
If you see fresh droppings, it could mean that a bear has recently passed by. This is a sign for you to be alert as you hike.
If you are attacked, you should behave differently depending on the species of bear
Black bears: you could be bold and aggressive, for example throwing things, standing tall and yelling.
Grizzly bears: your approach should be the opposite - backing away slowly and not provoking the animal. This is particularly true for female bears with cubs, which can be particularly dangerous.
Try to keep as calm as possible, walk away slowly and keep watching the animal while you get far from it.
Know when to play dead
Only play dead after a bear has made contact with you.
If it's a black bear, try fighting back. If that strategy does not work, lay on your stomach (protecting your vital organs), clasp your hands on the back of your neck, and pull up your knees. At this point, the bear may give up and leave.
If it's a grizzly bear, do not defend yourself. Just play dead.
Carry bear spray
It is a type of pepper spray that can protect you, should the bear attack you.
Before using it, however, make sure you know how it works.
Source: National Geographic
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