Video of bear awakening Greenfield man goes viral


Staff Writer

Published: 09-16-2020 4:50 PM

GREENFIELD — People have been told not to “poke the bear.” But apparently, no one has said a bear shouldn’t poke a human.

Matthew Bete got a text from his father, who lives around the corner, shortly before 2 p.m. Saturday to inform him of a bear headed in his direction. But he was sleeping in a lounge chair by his in-ground pool on Lakeview Drive and didn’t see the message until after he was woken up — by a tap on the foot from the very same bear.

Home security footage has gone viral of the bear wandering poolside and taking some sips of water before sniffing Matthew’s right foot and poking him with his paw. Matthew is seen being startled awake and grabbing his cellphone, only for the bear to scamper off. The animal, visible through what appears to be some type of ornamental grass, briefly re-enters the frame before leaving.

Matthew’s wife, Dawn Bete, said her husband captured some video of the bear as it left, but it has not been seen since.

“I’m surprised he didn’t go swimming in the pool,” Dawn said of the bear, which people who have seen the video have told her is likely about 1 year old. She said her family sees bears semi-regularly in their woodsy neighborhood, but this is the first time her husband has had an encounter with one.

Dawn said Matthew, who owns BETE Fog Nozzle in Greenfield, was working in the yard when he decided to catch some shuteye in a lounger, but he forgot to close a gate. The next thing he knew, he was staring a bear in the face.

Matthew quickly shared his experience with his wife, who was running errands and initially did not believe him. Dawn used a phone app to review security footage captured by motion-activated cameras, and saw the encounter with her own eyes.

She posted the footage on her Facebook page and, as of 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, it had been shared 961 times, with 160,000 views.

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“Matt was a little startled yesterday while taking a rest by the pool,” the post reads, followed by a bear emoji.

The video, which contains no sound, has been shared by media outlets around the world, from CNN to the Daily Mail (in the United Kingdom) to The Indian Express, an English-language newspaper based in India.

“It’s been crazy ever since,” Dawn Bete said, mentioning her phone has been ringing off the hook with outlets requesting interviews. “Of course, the gates are closed now, and they’ll stay closed.”

The Farmers’ Almanac reports people can deter bears by keeping garbage containers clean and secure (and keeping them inside at night, if possible), ensuring any bird feeders are at least 10 feet off the ground, keeping grills clean and free of drippings, and sprinkling lime on compost piles and ammonia on garbage to make them unattractive to the animals.

The Humane Society of the United States recommends that people who encounter bears never run away from or approach them, but rather stand and face the animals directly. It is wise to make oneself look as big as possible by spreading out one’s arms, and to make noise by yelling or banging pots and pans. If a bear attacks, don’t play dead — fight back.

Reach Domenic Poli at: or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.