Brooklyn Student Takes Historic Photo of Black Bear

Published: June 06, 2007 | Read Time: 2 minutes

The first-ever photo of a black bear in Bryce Canyon was captured last week by an honors student from Brooklyn.

Rony Enriquez, age 22, was participating in Southern Utah University’s pilot program, Partners in the Parks, when he encountered a young bear while backpacking.

“I heard a noise, similar to someone stepping and crushing leaves beneath their feet,” remembers Enriquez. The bear was approximately 100 feet in front of him. Standing on its legs, it appeared to be about 6 feet tall and weigh about 200-300 pounds.

“Here I was, the Brooklyn kid about to be charged and devoured by a bear who might possibly be assisted by mother bear some where out of my sight,” says Enriquez. The bear, however, did not charge. And Enriquez, luckily, was able to take a few photos before their standoff ended with the bear running off.

According to Dr. Todd Petersen, assistant English professor and co-director of the camp, some of the rangers have worked in the park for twenty years and have never seen a bear. “This kid comes from Brooklyn and within three days of being there he sees one.”

Enriquez encountered the bear as he was hiking alone. In a sort of stalemate, Enriquez and the bear stared at each other until two of his other hiking friends joined him on the trail. They threw rocks until a more experienced hiker advised them to slowly back away.

“The bear huffed and puffed,” remarks Enriquez. It then ran away.

Typical of an honors student, Enriquez learned a lot from this one experience. “I learned that being alone in a time of despair and hopelessness is not a great position to be in,” says Enriquez. And “it is okay to ask or accept help from others.”

Sponsored by SUU Honors, Partners in the Parks is a joint venture with the National Park Service to increase park patronage among U.S. citizens. Twenty-one students from around the country, most from the east coast, spent a week in Bryce Canyon.

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