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#172569 - 12/03/12 01:45 PM Bear Precautions
rodwha Offline
member

Registered: 06/25/11
Posts: 131
Loc: Texas...for now
So Texas has black bears coming up out of Mexico due to drought. I've been meaning to learn a bit about the precautions one must take to minimize the chances of having a bear decide to come up into your camp, especially when children are present.

Are the bear canisters for food just hard for them to get into or does it hide the smell of food as well? Is it still necessary to hoist it into a tree?

Do people put there other things such as tooth paste, sunscreen, bug spray, etc. in it with their food as well?

I'd be buying from REI as we recently bought a membership with them, but I don't see any sort of way to easily attach a rope (paracord) to the canister itself. A separate bag for it?

We have a nearly 4 yr old daughter who loves to camp with us. Any advice or things to be cautious about concerning her? I'm sure she'd greatly enjoy wearing bear bells! We'll eventually buy some bear spray.
_________________________
Bob


"Were I to leave where else would I go? Your words of life and of truth You hold." - Third Day

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#172570 - 12/03/12 02:16 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: rodwha]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
Bear canisters are hard to get into; don't assume they mask the food odors. Don't put them in trees; if the canister drops it can crack open. Put it in a low spot where it can't easily be rolled away. Do put tooth paste at least into the canister; really anything with a scent.

That said, in your case I wouldn't buy a canister unless I was outdoors a lot and didn't care about the added weight. If you're car camping, just keep the food in the car at night.
If you're backpacking much, consider an ursack (google it) combined with an odor proof liner.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#172572 - 12/03/12 04:15 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: BrianLe]
rodwha Offline
member

Registered: 06/25/11
Posts: 131
Loc: Texas...for now
We don't usually car camp. And we want to get to a point where we can take off for a month and travel either the CDT or AT.

If the canister isn't a good odor shield why wouldn't you want to keep it out of reach of bears? If it could break from dropping it seems it would break if a bear wanted in it. I couldn't likely handle having my food taken or destroyed if on a deep down the path adventure, especially if in the Rockies.
_________________________
Bob


"Were I to leave where else would I go? Your words of life and of truth You hold." - Third Day

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#172574 - 12/03/12 05:05 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: rodwha]
jbylake Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
Yeah, I'm going to have to figure this out too. We have a lot of camping in and around the Daniel Boone National Forest. Bears were hunted to extinction in the late 1800's to early 1900's, but for the last 30 years or so have been making a big comeback. Coming up from the Smokey Mountains in Tenn, and west from W. Virginia.

New PDF rules state using a Bear Cannister as mandatory. But I'm not sure if they actually mean a cannister (which I beleive they do, because they give vertical and horizontal measurements, for hanging). Since I'll be hiking, keepeing food in the truck won't work.

I'm going to have to call the Rangers and get an exact clarification, because they tend not to have any mercy, if you break a rule, accidently (for lack of knowledge) or not.

Maybe you could call your parks and forest departments and get it directly from their mouths?

J.



Edited by jbylake (12/03/12 06:05 PM)

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#172575 - 12/03/12 06:07 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: rodwha]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1813
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
The purpose of a bear canister is not to protect your food from the bear, it is to protect the bear from your food. Most land management agencies don't really care that much whether you go hungry after a bear gets your food. What they care about is keeping bears from getting dependent on your food and thus becoming a nuisance. In other words, the regulations are in place to protect bears, not you. They have to shoot problem bears because they can't (currently) shoot problem campers. Viewed in this light, everything makes a sort of sense.
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#172576 - 12/03/12 06:09 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: rodwha]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Having bears around doesn't necessarily mean they will be a problem. Our Ozark Black Bears are incredibly good at staying away from people. I've been here for close to 17 years or more and I have still have not heard of a single incident of a black bear harassing a backpacker.

In the 15 years I lived out west I never had a problem with them when I did most of my camping/hiking in Sequoia NF and NP in California, but it was (and still is) pretty common up in Yosemite north of there. I'd suspect that it's still rare in Sequoia though.

_________________________
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"You want to go where?"



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#172577 - 12/03/12 06:11 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: rodwha]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2912
Loc: NorCal
Based on observed behavior, a bear will swat at and pounce on the canister, then give up and move on. Bears accustomed to seeing them don't even bother because they've learned there's no reward. It's recommended the canister be left in a depression or at least away from slopes or cliffs, so the bear doesn't send it into the next county.

Depending on your tree situation, a "PCT bear bag" hang might be the way to go. Check YouTube for videos of the technique.

I'd also let Stephen Colbert know we're being invaded by illegal Mexican bears. He'd like to know.

Cheers,
_________________________
--Rick

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#172578 - 12/03/12 06:14 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: rodwha]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Bob, the bear canister thing is pretty simple. The canister is made to take abuse from the bear and not allow it to get at the contents. So far bears do not pick up the canisters and throw them on rocks to open them up. But they will crack if dropped on rocks. You put everything the bear may be attracted to (that includes the stuff in your list)in the canister each evening and stash it some distance from your sleeping quarters AND from where you cooked. All three places should have some distance from each other. Avoiding bear/food problems is more about being clean with your food handling. Keep everything with food on it either hung or in the canister, and inside odor proof bags if you got them. I put my stuff into ziplocks sometimes doubled up depending upon how messy things got. Also, it helps if you can avoid areas with known bear problems. Keep an eye on your kids; they may look like easy prey to a hungry bear. Just make noise and generally keep her between you two and you should be ok.

Chris

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#172579 - 12/03/12 06:18 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: billstephenson]
jbylake Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
Originally Posted By billstephenson
Having bears around doesn't necessarily mean they will be a problem. Our Ozark Black Bears are incredibly good at staying away from people. I've been here for close to 17 years or more and I have still have not heard of a single incident of a black bear harassing a backpacker.

In the 15 years I lived out west I never had a problem with them when I did most of my camping/hiking in Sequoia NF and NP in California, but it was (and still is) pretty common up in Yosemite north of there. I'd suspect that it's still rare in Sequoia though.


Same here. Sightings all over the place, but not a single reported incident, which I find a little strange, because those coming from the Smokey's are used to "bumming meals". Still, even though no reported incidents, it seems they (rangers) are still going to require a cannister, if I'm reading the rules correctly.

J.

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#172580 - 12/03/12 06:18 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: rodwha]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
They are designed so the bear can't pick it up or get their teeth around any part of it. Tying anything to it defeats the purpose. They Work very well in yosemite, where the bears are ninja food getters.

They can be broken by very determined bears (i have seen pics of a shattered bearikade) but that is a rare thing. Most of the time the bears roll it around and move on. It does not matter if the bear can reach it, smell it, or touch it. It just keeps them from the food long enough for them to be frustrated enough to find easier calories.

In yosemite we would bury the cans in rocks so we would hear them and have a chance to drive the bear away before he rolled it off somewhere. Tree wells or large depressions where a tree fell and left a hole are what i put mine in.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#172581 - 12/03/12 07:28 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: Pika]
rodwha Offline
member

Registered: 06/25/11
Posts: 131
Loc: Texas...for now
"They have to shoot problem bears because they can't (currently) shoot problem campers."

Too funny!

I hadn't really ever heard of black bears being very problematic until somewhat recently. What I've heard is that the black bears along (somewhere) the AT (IIRC) have learned that hikers carry food and will target backpacks and such. I've seen how they are becoming more problematic in Pennsylvania invading neighborhoods, and just aren't very fearful of people or dogs.
_________________________
Bob


"Were I to leave where else would I go? Your words of life and of truth You hold." - Third Day

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#172582 - 12/03/12 07:55 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: BrianLe]
dkramalc Offline
member

Registered: 09/19/03
Posts: 1070
Loc: California
Quote:
If you're car camping, just keep the food in the car at night.


That probably works right now, but sooner or later the bears may figure out that it's pretty easy to get into a car (a la California bears, who can open it like a can of sardines). If I were you I'd hate for my car to be the one that they "learned on".
_________________________
dk

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#172585 - 12/03/12 08:11 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: dkramalc]
intrek38 Offline
member

Registered: 11/29/03
Posts: 430
Loc: Hesperia, Calif
I would have to agree that we humans are the problem and not the bears. Although these canisters aren't 100%, it's the best thing we've come up with and it benefits us all, especially the bears.
Here's a video of the BV in action.. One determined bear and to close to the tent..
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sn7oayAa...ture=plpp_video

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#172586 - 12/03/12 08:18 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: jbylake]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
Looking at the DBFS website, bear canisters are recommended, but they don't appear to be mandatory. Hanging food (at whatever recommended lengths) is a technique that works for less sophisticated ursines that have not passed Food Procurement 101. Sierra Bears all have doctorates in that field and are continuing with advanced research.

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#172588 - 12/03/12 08:59 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: oldranger]
jbylake Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
Originally Posted By oldranger
Looking at the DBFS website, bear canisters are recommended, but they don't appear to be mandatory. Hanging food (at whatever recommended lengths) is a technique that works for less sophisticated ursines that have not passed Food Procurement 101. Sierra Bears all have doctorates in that field and are continuing with advanced research.


OR, yes, the rules were put in place in the DBNF following a bear attack. The first ever reported in recent history in KY, in 2010.
These rules are pretty much the same as any other area with bears..
Do Not Feed Bears
Do Not Store Food in Tents
Do Not Burn or Bury Trash
Do Put Trash in Bear Resistant Cans
Do Store Food in Cars (I guesss the forest service should consult the video's of bears opening cars like tuna cans to get food)
Do hang your food 10 feet high and 4 feet out from the trunk of a tree.

The DB National Forest put these rules in place because of a bear attack, and to keep the bears natuarally afraid of humans.

http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/boone/

I stand corrected. I mentioned in an earlier post that there has never been a reported bear attack incident in the DBNF.

I do have friends in the far eastern corner (Hatfield and McCoy territory) who are seeing bears on a fairly "regular" basis. Not sure if they're seeing the same bears multiple times, but I do know we got a heck of a spike in bears over the last 20 - 30 years, and backpackers not used to dealing with them are going to have to get used to them, and how to deal with them.

J.


Edited by jbylake (12/03/12 09:03 PM)

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#172590 - 12/03/12 09:22 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: Rick_D]
ETSU Pride Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/10
Posts: 933
Loc: Knoxville, TN
Originally Posted By Rick_D


I'd also let Stephen Colbert know we're being invaded by illegal Mexican bears. He'd like to know.

Cheers,


Hahaha! This made my night.
_________________________
It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy.-- Horace Kephart

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#172591 - 12/03/12 09:41 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: ETSU Pride]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By ETSU Pride
Originally Posted By Rick_D


I'd also let Stephen Colbert know we're being invaded by illegal Mexican bears. He'd like to know.

Cheers,


Hahaha! This made my night.


Yeah, he'd definitely be wagging his finger at them about this. laugh
_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#172594 - 12/03/12 11:15 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: billstephenson]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2865
Loc: California
My experiences have been quite different. I am bear bait. I regularly encounter bears, in ALL parts of the Sierra as well as on the coast (Lost Coast). My most serious up-close bear stand-off was in Sequoia- bear and I stared each other down and talked it over for half an hour before she let me pass (she had a cub). Often I run into two or more bears a day. One 3-day trip I ran into 8 bears. Most of these encounters are off-trail and during the day. I have also had a bear roll my bear cannister around in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming.

I think a lot of people think they see no bears because they really do not look for them. A am constantly looking for bears. When there are bear sign, I start calmly talking to them (last spring when I ran into tons of bear tracks I recited Dr Seuss stories to them).

I do think the cannister requirement is working - each year I see fewer bears.

Bears in the Sierra raid camps at night in areas of heavy use. I seldom camp in heavily used areas. You are more likely to run into a bear in the day off-trail. Bears really do not want to be around you - just make a lot of noise or talk (or sing)and they usually get off the trail. I also clank my trekking poles in such a manner that I sound like two people and talk in two voices so I sound like two people.

Some protocols when backpacking in bear country:

Keep a clean camp. Wash hands and face before going to bed. Ideally cook in area well away from tent. In fact in grizzly country, it is a good idea to cook and then travel another mile to camp.

Avoid packer's camps or established camps.

Keep an eye out for bear signs- learn to recognize bear poo, berry stains on rocks, bear fuzz on bushes, tracks. If you smell a bear they are really close!

Choose campsite well over a mile from any fresh bear sign.

Do not take excessively smelly food. I never take bacon, jerky or other very smelly food if I anticipate lots of bears.

Make lots of noise when walking.

Safer to travel in groups, not solo.

Always look around. Never get between mother and cub. (All mother/cubs I have encountered - mother sent cubs up tree and she stood on hind legs and growled. I backed off slowly.)

There is disagreement on fires. Some say campfires attract bears. My experience has been that if I build a fire, bears stay the distance. Bears smell really well - if they are near they can smell you anyway. But they should be a bit fearful of fires.

If a black bear gets into camp, run them off. If they attack, fight back.




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#172601 - 12/04/12 01:45 AM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: wandering_daisy]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2912
Loc: NorCal
I find myself pondering: is this is a feature or a bug?

Regardless, good summary!

Cheers,

Originally Posted By wandering_daisy
My experiences have been quite different. I am bear bait. I regularly encounter bears, in ALL parts of the Sierra as well as on the coast
_________________________
--Rick

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#172605 - 12/04/12 09:02 AM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: intrek38]
rodwha Offline
member

Registered: 06/25/11
Posts: 131
Loc: Texas...for now
intrek: That is a brown bear and not a black bear correct? It looks huge! I'd have needed to change my undies were it that close!

_________________________
Bob


"Were I to leave where else would I go? Your words of life and of truth You hold." - Third Day

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#172606 - 12/04/12 09:04 AM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: rodwha]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
That is a black bear. They come in all colors from blond to black.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#172607 - 12/04/12 09:18 AM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: lori]
rodwha Offline
member

Registered: 06/25/11
Posts: 131
Loc: Texas...for now
It looks HUGE!
_________________________
Bob


"Were I to leave where else would I go? Your words of life and of truth You hold." - Third Day

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#172608 - 12/04/12 09:21 AM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: dkramalc]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Quote:

Quote:
If you're car camping, just keep the food in the car at night.


That probably works right now, but sooner or later the bears may figure out that it's pretty easy to get into a car (a la California bears, who can open it like a can of sardines). If I were you I'd hate for my car to be the one that they "learned on".


+1 on that. Earliest I remember is early 80's driving into Sequoia and the entrance had a large poster board with photos of cars and trucks with there doors peeled back like sardine cans...all to get at the food. Reminds me of that Gary Larson cartoon with the bear peeling the top off a car with people inside saying "I love these things... crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle".

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#172613 - 12/04/12 02:18 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: rodwha]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"We don't usually car camp. And we want to get to a point where we can take off for a month and travel either the CDT or AT."


There's no place on the CDT or AT that I would carry a bear canister, with the exception that in Glacier N.P. in June of last year the rangers made us borrow canisters because snow levels were so high that it put the bear wire too low relative to "ground level". That's not a usual situation, however. I use a bear canister in the Sierras (just did that in September), and on the Olympic coast, and would probably now carry one in the Olympic N.P. On the CDT it would not be a bad idea to carry one in GNP or Yosemite, though you're not required to. Basically, if in a place where bears are habituated (national parks and the like), take a canister. If not, don't --- they're heavy and they don't reduce in size as you eat down your food load. The "benefit" of being able to use it as a camp stool does not entice me in the slightest.

I think there is now a brief stretch of the AT that requires (?) bear canisters, but from my understanding if you can walk decent mileage per day you don't need to camp in that zone. There are a couple of places on the AT with bear poles or cable (Smokies, Shenendoah N.P., Katahdin area) but otherwise, perhaps apart from a short bit in New Jersey, really not much of an issue.

Quote:
"If the canister isn't a good odor shield why wouldn't you want to keep it out of reach of bears? If it could break from dropping it seems it would break if a bear wanted in it. I couldn't likely handle having my food taken or destroyed if on a deep down the path adventure, especially if in the Rockies."


I think others have already responded pretty well to this, but just in case ---
The canister is very much NOT a "keep it out of reach of bears" strategy. It's not at all an easy item to keep out of their reach. If you want to use the "keep out of reach" strategy, learn how to bear bag, and hope you have adequate trees, a good throwing arm, enough daylight, patience, and a rich vocabulary of swear words. And then expect that you'll still sometimes do a poor job in keeping food out of the reach of an animal that evolved to climb trees (I'm talking black bears here).

Hanging it high and having it slip from the rope or other accident or bear activity could crack the can in a way that experience shows that bears don't apply. That said, my favorite place to put a bear can is sort of wedged in between downed logs, so that it's not easy to bat around and the thing it's batted against is softer wood rather than hard stone.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#172614 - 12/04/12 02:32 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: skcreidc]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2912
Loc: NorCal
Darn things are smart enough to recognize car models and go after vulnerable ones. e.g., IIRC Toyota Corollas were "popular" among the ursine set. I can only imagine the design team getting a memo, "Oh, by the way, in addition to 'must appeal to 22-28 year olds' the replacement model must not be attractive to bears."

"Heartless, godless killing machines!"

Cheers,
_________________________
--Rick

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