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#172624 - 12/04/12 05:51 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: Rick_D]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6742
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
How to tell a "black" bear from a grizzly. It's not the size and not the color! The distinguishing items are shoulder hump, facial profile, ear shape, claws (I'd rather not get close enough for that!) and tracks.

The shattered Bearikade that Lori mentions after the ursine tester for the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee did his thing. Note that the Bearikade is not IGBC approved. Page down to the middle of the page for the photos. The Bearikade is fine for black bears but not for their stronger cousins!


Edited by OregonMouse (12/04/12 05:52 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#172631 - 12/04/12 07:46 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: OregonMouse]
rodwha Offline
member

Registered: 06/25/11
Posts: 131
Loc: Texas...for now
Greatly enjoyed the identifying bears link! I didn't know as much as I thought I did.
_________________________
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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#172632 - 12/04/12 07:49 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: rodwha]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Your right rodwha, that IS a great link. OM, thank you for putting that up!!

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#172635 - 12/04/12 08:46 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: skcreidc]
rodwha Offline
member

Registered: 06/25/11
Posts: 131
Loc: Texas...for now
Informative for sure!
I'm not sure what avenue I'd take when choosing a bag/canister to carry stuff in. I'm not certain that the bears are problem enough to warrant getting something ASAP, though, no doubt, the repercussions would/could be more than I'd be willing to pay.
Bear spray has been on my short list as it would no doubt work well against just about anything, 2 legged critters too.
_________________________
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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#172642 - 12/04/12 10:00 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: rodwha]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2865
Loc: California
Using bear spray, like using a fire extinguisher, should be practiced. I shot off an old expired bear spray can this summer - first time I actually used bear spray. Bear spry is dated - only lasts a number of years. At about $50 a can, I have had to buy three so far. There are some good videos on how to use bear spray. Google "Counter Assult" this is a brand name of one of the bear sprays.

I only take bear spray in grizzly country. I think bear spray is actually illegal in Yosemite and Sequoia NPs.

So far I have only taken the bear spray on a few trips. With small children around be sure the children stay away from it- A child could get seriously hurt if they played with it and it shot off.

I ran into two Canadian women this summer while in the Wind Rivers. Interestingly, they do not carry bear spray in Canada where they hike in areas with lots of grizzly bears. One woman said she accidently sprayed her backpack partner and after that, decided it was more dangerous than not having it!

Almost all Fish and Game wardens and FS rangers in Wyoming carry bear spray and highly recommend it and carry it in ADDITION to their firearms.

I do not know a single person who has actually used bear spray to fend off a bear.

Bottom line - a personal choice, not a 100% guarentee.


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#172651 - 12/05/12 12:49 AM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: wandering_daisy]
rodwha Offline
member

Registered: 06/25/11
Posts: 131
Loc: Texas...for now
"I think bear spray is actually illegal in Yosemite and Sequoia NPs."

Seriously? Illegal? Why?

"Almost all Fish and Game wardens and FS rangers in Wyoming carry bear spray and highly recommend it and carry it in ADDITION to their firearms."

This is how I see it. First line of defense is the bear bells. After that is spray. But I'll have something if the spray does't work, which it doesn't always. But I'd prefer it be deterred than to have to physically deal with it.
_________________________
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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#172652 - 12/05/12 12:53 AM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: rodwha]
rodwha Offline
member

Registered: 06/25/11
Posts: 131
Loc: Texas...for now
"One woman said she accidently sprayed her backpack partner and after that, decided it was more dangerous than not having it!"

I'm a little curious about this. I have no clue what she was dealing with or how it's safety features work, but it sounds odd to me. How could such a thing occur?
_________________________
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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#172654 - 12/05/12 01:14 AM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: rodwha]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2916
Loc: NorCal
I'll only add that bears fight dirty, so you need to respond in kind.

Use your wits, their brains are tiny

Cheers,
_________________________
--Rick

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#172655 - 12/05/12 02:38 AM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: rodwha]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By rodwha
"I think bear spray is actually illegal in Yosemite and Sequoia NPs."

Seriously? Illegal? Why?

"Almost all Fish and Game wardens and FS rangers in Wyoming carry bear spray and highly recommend it and carry it in ADDITION to their firearms."

This is how I see it. First line of defense is the bear bells. After that is spray. But I'll have something if the spray does't work, which it doesn't always. But I'd prefer it be deterred than to have to physically deal with it.


Bear Bells? Dinner Bells! They are useless here. Bears in California rarely, as in a handful of times in the past decades since the grizzly went extinct, even attack a person.

Bear spray is a weapon and illegal in Yosemite NP as all weapons are - although, if you are in compliance with California state regs, you can carry (NOT use, that's still illegal) a gun. It's the facts, jack. And bear spray is pointless as the bear bells since again, the bears don't want you. Just the sandwich, granola, clif bars, trash, etc you are carrying.

Bear bells are 100 times more likely to get you hurt - by me. They are #$@#%%$@@##$ annoying. I will sing all the show tunes in the universe before I will carry some #$%# jingle bells that can't be heard over the wind in the leaves.
_________________________
"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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#172656 - 12/05/12 09:03 AM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: rodwha]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Bob, from what I have learned, that woman needed to spend the time (and money) practicing how to use the weapon. Yes; weapon. I've burned through 2 canisters practicing myself. One when I first got them, and the second after it expired. If and when you need it, you will not want to be trying to figure out how to use the stuff.

Good news is that in black bear country you don't need bear spray...OK. Let me rephrase that. IN California, Arizona, Texas...the south west that is, you will not need bear spray. I'm not absolutely sure about other areas, and in Canada and Alaska, black bears are another thing to be on your toes about. Good camp habits and learning about bear behavior will be what you need.

Chris

ps I don't have any problem with bells, but in the Sierra Nevada of California you do not need them. Again, a clean camp will most likely keep you out of trouble.

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#172661 - 12/05/12 10:22 AM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: skcreidc]
ETSU Pride Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/10
Posts: 933
Loc: Knoxville, TN
Here:
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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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#172664 - 12/05/12 11:07 AM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: ETSU Pride]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6742
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Oldie but goodie! laugh

It's a good idea to check the most recent rules where you are going. Grand Teton National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park both started requiring canisters in the last few years. North Cascades National Park is talking about it. Olympic NP requires them on the coast (raccoons, there) and where there are no bear wires, and is talking about removing the bear wires and requiring canisters everywhere. Also, remember that if the jurisdiction requires IGBC-approved canisters, the Bearikade is not allowed.

I think most of us have heard about the Bear Vault problems in the Adirondacks. Yellow-Yellow may be gone, but I'm sure she taught her cubs how to open Bear Vaults!

I, too, will not haul a canister if it is not required. However, I can't hang my food (arthritic shoulders plus I've always been extremely poor at throwing), so I use an Ursack, with an OP sack liner, all the time when I don't have to use the canister. In areas where bears have not been conditioned to think that a hanging bag is a pinata, the Ursack works fine.


Edited by OregonMouse (12/05/12 11:14 AM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#172667 - 12/05/12 12:41 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: lori]
rodwha Offline
member

Registered: 06/25/11
Posts: 131
Loc: Texas...for now
"Bear bells are 100 times more likely to get you hurt - by me. They are #$@#%%$@@##$ annoying."

I'm sure I'd become annoyed after a while too. Fact is she's fairly noisy all on her own! It would probably be enough.

I still don't understand why bear spray is considered a weapon. It seems odd to me that it is considered one, and illegal.

I figure bear spray is a good thing to carry as it ought to work just as well against a mountain lion or any creature that may attack you if either wounded, with young, or infected with rabies (possibly). Not to mention 2 legged monsters.

And were there a problem with a bear I'd much prefer to spray. Getting physical would be the last thing I'd want to do as the chances of getting injured greatly increase.
_________________________
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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#172668 - 12/05/12 12:46 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: rodwha]
rodwha Offline
member

Registered: 06/25/11
Posts: 131
Loc: Texas...for now
I've heard of accounts in which the black bears somewhere along the AT have been targeting people's backpacks. I'm not sure if this has happened while they are wearing them or not.
_________________________
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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#172671 - 12/05/12 01:50 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: lori]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"Bear bells are 100 times more likely to get you hurt - by me. They are #$@#%%$@@##$ annoying."


smile Thanks for saying that, Lori --- I agree completely. When I hiked in Montana/Wyoming last year some people were concerned that I wasn't belled like a cat. Or a jester. Or a clown. I told them that I'd rather be eaten than to jingle constantly. Or to have people constantly making Christmas-related jokes as I walked the trail. I think that they thought that I was joking ...
(to be fair, I did carry bear spray, something I had never done before)
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#172672 - 12/05/12 02:07 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: rodwha]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
In the context of someone accidentally spraying someone else, rodwha asked:
"How could such a thing occur?"

Bear spray comes with a safety pin or plastic safety clip, or perhaps both (mine had both). Once actually out in bear country, it's common to at least take the pin out (if present), but perhaps others take the safety clip off as well --- maybe they did a test spray and left it off (or dropped/lost it). Maybe they elected to leave it off to make it that much faster, easier to spray a bear at need; maybe so that they wouldn't forget the clip and get mauled while fiddling with it, something like that (?). That would be my guess, anyway.

Without the plastic safety clip in place it would be easy for the can to be bumped or dropped and start spraying, and with that concentration of bear mace, a little goes a long way. I kept mine strapped to my waist belt, and the can took some impacts on occasion when I put my pack down, or sat down quickly with the (forgotten) can strapped to my waist. If you sleep with the spray can near you, you could trigger it when fumbling around in the dark. Lots of opportunities for that sort of thing.

The plastic safety clip is designed to pop off quickly with thumb pressure, and so should be kept on anytime you don't actually intend to spray.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#172675 - 12/05/12 02:59 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: wandering_daisy]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By W_D
My experiences have been quite different. I am bear bait.


Yeah, from what I've read of your travels bears do really like to hang out with you. wink

I've only encountered 2 bears in all my wonderings. One was in Sequoia NP, it was walking away from me when I spotted it. I spent a lot more time in Sequoia NF and never saw one there. Most of my time there was spent off trail in the forested areas, I rarely got above 9000 ft there so I never got a lot views with any distance. I didn't really look for game trails back then, and I'm sure made a lot of noise too. Probably just dumb luck I didn't see or encounter more.

But here, where I've spent way more time off trail and nights out while bushwhacking far from trails and campsites, I've never had a bear approach my campsite. Now I purposely make noise while bushwhacking to give them plenty of warning that I'm there, but I just hang my food in a bag about 100 feet from where I sleep. I've never been able to convince myself a bear can't get it though.

I think in the case of bears illegally immigrating here from Mexico I might be more cautious than I feel the need to be here. If they're coming into Texas looking for food than they may be more inclined to risk an encounter with humans. If, however, they're getting fat and happy living of the land there, you'd probably be hard pressed to ever see one.

What we have to consider here is that Texas is mighty big, and most of it is privately owned. It wasn't that long ago that there weren't any bears at all there. None. Even now it'd take an invasion of bears and a few more decades to make encounters common on public land there. Before you ever get to the point where that happens Texas will create a hunting season for them.

I really don't think you have a thing to worry about.


_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#172677 - 12/05/12 04:03 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: rodwha]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Quote:
I still don't understand why bear spray is considered a weapon. It seems odd to me that it is considered one, and illegal.


One definition of a weapon is anything used to defend one's self; Bear spray certainly fits that description. It's basically the same as spray mace (or pepper spray) only used against bears and other animals instead of people. Bear spray is not illegal everywhere, just in particular areas. So you need to ask someone or look on-line if you were planning to bring some to a particular National or State Park. Why is it illegal? I don't know for sure, but probably someone used bear spray inappropriately, caused a huge uproar and ruined it for everyone else, so to speak.

Bear bells. I have not seen any study done on them. I have done a lot of reading of late on bear behavior and attacks. I'm pretty sure that at least 2 of the books do not mention bear bells at all (Bear Attacks; Their causes and Avoidance by Stephen Herrero, and Hiking with Grizzlies; Lessons Learned by Tim Rubbert). From my point of view, bear bells have a few problems. First the jingle bell ones are too high pitched to hear at any distance. If you wear a goat or sheep bell, then you might sound like a potential food source. Second, being alert is your best defense and if the bells give someone a false sense of security, the alertness may drop. Anyway, in the Sierra Nevada it really doesn't matter if you wear bear bells, except for the annoyance of those around you. I have to admit, I have not heard bear bells in quite a few years now.


I've been reading up cause I plan to visit B.C. and return to the Beartooths (and possibly the Bitterroots). Better to be prepared, I think. How does that go?...better to put yourself in the position to be lucky than to rely on luck.

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#172682 - 12/05/12 06:22 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: rodwha]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2865
Loc: California
You have it backwards. Wardens carry bear spray because it is more effective than a pistol. The bear spray would be used FIRST. In their general patroling, they do not carry rifle around - that is usually on the horse. A pistol is not very effective against grizzly bears. The pistol is more for self defense, since they are dealing with a public who all are carrying guns. In addition, the Game and Fish are supposed to protect wildlife. It is preferable to deter the bear first with a non-lethal means. Nobody who deals with wildlife management wants to kill a grizzly (federally designated endangered species) unless it is the last resort.

Many areas have a hunting season on black bears. It has been my experience that bears are less of a problem for backpackers in areas where they are regularly hunted.

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#172683 - 12/05/12 06:32 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: BrianLe]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2865
Loc: California
If you are threatened by a bear at close range, it is not likely you will stop to test the wind direction. If you shoot into a wind that is blowing back at you, the spray can end up on you. It does not take much to cause problems.

I do not think it is only women who need practice. There is limited amount of spray and there are specific techniques to use it most effectively. I think it is quite normal to freak out if a bear were attacking. Some people freeze for a few seconds. Practice breaks the "freeze" so that your action is instinctive. Very similar to stoppping yourself with an ice axe on steep snow. Just having an ice axe in hand does little good. You need to have practiced enough so that the technique is flawless and instinctive. Same with a gun. Just carrying a gun is useless unless you are trained and practice.

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#172685 - 12/05/12 06:53 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: wandering_daisy]
rodwha Offline
member

Registered: 06/25/11
Posts: 131
Loc: Texas...for now
A weapon would be my last resort. I'm not sure if I misworded something, but I'd prefer not to have to fight with or shoot a bear. You have to be a good shot to take a bear down with a pistol, and under stress at that!

I'm not in grizzly country nor would I likely be hiking it unless we went to the upper half of the CDT, which is certainly possible. I love Colorado and northern Arizona!

i certainly understand the importance of testing and familiarizing yourself with the bear spray, but it sure is expensive!!! How many times can you use them?
_________________________
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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#172687 - 12/05/12 06:58 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: rodwha]
rodwha Offline
member

Registered: 06/25/11
Posts: 131
Loc: Texas...for now
I know that black bears are omnivorous. But what do they actually kill to eat? Would a small child be potentially viewed as food if hungry enough? I know they are typically scared of people and will usually run away under most circumstances.

I'd actually be more concerned with mountain lions, of which we've had many sightings near town. But attacks around here are almost nonexistent.
_________________________
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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#172689 - 12/05/12 07:18 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: rodwha]
rockchucker22 Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 751
Loc: Eastern Sierras
Originally Posted By rodwha
I know that black bears are omnivorous. But what do they actually kill to eat? Would a small child be potentially viewed as food if hungry enough? I know they are typically scared of people and will usually run away under most circumstances.

I'd actually be more concerned with mountain lions, of which we've had many sightings near town. But attacks around here are almost nonexistent.
Black bears eat anything, but would almost never go for humans. If you act like prey when confronted by a bear you may become it, but if you are at all aggressive, bears see this as too much trouble. Mountian lions are even less likely to get you as thier food sources are much more specific. Most lion attacks are old lions with bad teeth starved to death and desperate.
_________________________
The wind wont howl if the wind don't break.

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#172694 - 12/05/12 08:34 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: rockchucker22]
Wasatch Offline
member

Registered: 09/13/09
Posts: 54
Loc: California
I have sprayed 100's of dogs in my mailman career. Almost very letter carrier in our town has. I always knew which way the wind was blowing, unless it was a light wind not enough to matter. However, Halt is not bear spray and I have no experience with it. Halt can be purchased at any bicycle shop (it is NOT bear spray, nor mace) it is cayenne pepper spray.

Yep, in California not a single grizzly has been sighted for decades.

No person has ever been killed by a black bear in 150 years of Yosemite park history.

Many hikers I know, and those I have seen, hang their bear canisters (I do too). On the other hand it is easy to see all the canisters in the trees, the ones on the ground you don't see, so maybe lots more folks actually do not hang them than those who do, I'm not sure.

There are places on the net to see how to properly hang a bear bag or canister, so that the smartest bear in the world will not likely defeat the system. But it is lots more effort to do it and sometimes the bear wins anyway.








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#172702 - 12/05/12 09:17 PM Re: Bear Precautions [Re: Wasatch]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By Wasatch

Many hikers I know, and those I have seen, hang their bear canisters (I do too). On the other hand it is easy to see all the canisters in the trees, the ones on the ground you don't see, so maybe lots more folks actually do not hang them than those who do, I'm not sure.



Not to sound like I am shouting at you in particular, because I know this is a common misconception --

YOU DO NOT HANG A BEAR CANISTER. That is not what they are for. They should be placed on the GROUND. The bear cannot pick it up that way. If you attach a rope to it that will give a bear a handle to drag away your food, and even if it never gets it open, your canister and food will be GONE.

Place it on the ground, a fair distance (100 - 200 feet) from the tent, in a place where there's no easy way to roll it away down a hill or into water. As mentioned earlier in the thread.

Follow the instructions. Lock the lid, place it on the ground. If you can legally hang food, use bags! Canisters are made so you DON'T have to hang food, and to keep bears that know very well how to get hung food bags away from food. A bear dropping a canister out of a tree is a bear that will learn to drop canisters off other things - we definitely do not need bears to ever learn how to break them on rocks!

Until you understand this - for the love of creation, do not ever backpack in Yosemite! EVER.
_________________________
"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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