The moment an Alaska driver realized what she was witnessing — a hulking grizzly bear racing next to her car at 30 miles per hour — she knew what she had to do.
Danika Donnelly, 21, pulled out her phone and started recording.
“I had to take a video,” Donnelly told McClatchy in a phone interview, adding that she immediately knew “this was never going to happen again.”
Donnelly was on her way to work at a small drive-thru coffee shop in Anchorage when she spotted the loping grizzly around 8 a.m. on Wednesday, she said. But initially she didn’t know what she was seeing out of the corner of her eye.
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“At first, I just saw a shadow,” Donnelly said. “I just thought it was a bird — and then I look over, and it’s definitely bigger than a bird.”
Donnelly said it’s “super, super rare” to glimpse a grizzly bear in the area. Black bears, on the other hand, are a relatively common sight in the area of Anchorage she lives in, she said.
Donnelly said the bear was already racing beside her when it caught her attention and she started recording.
Even though the bear had ample opportunity to run off, it just kept chugging along beside her for a while, video shows. That video has now been shared widely on social media.
“It was doing its own thing,” Donnelly said. “It looked right at me. It could have run off into the woods at any point, but it just kept going straight.”
Grizzlies are strong runners, which is one of the reasons the U.S. Fish & Wild Services advises those encountering them to “never run from a bear.” The large mammals can cover 50 yards in just three seconds, running as fast as 40 miles per hour. That’s faster than a race horse and certainly faster than a person is capable of, the agency says.
Donnelly said she considered the possibility that the bear might run into the road as it sprinted about 30 or 40 feet from her, so she kept her foot over the brake.
She also said some have suggested she was harassing the bear by driving next to it and recording the video. But she said that allegation ignores the fact that the bear seemed perfectly content and was already running beside her when she noticed it.
“I wasn’t honking my horn,” she said. “I wasn’t doing anything to stress the bear.”
So what became of the grizzly after the video?
The recording shows the wild animal veering away from the road — but beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess.
“I wasn’t going to stop to find out where it was going,” Donnelly said.