First off the OP wrote about illegal Mexican bears and as far as I know - there have not been any grizzly sightings in Mexico in recorded history
I consider bear spray to be far more (dangerous) to carry around than the (danger) of meeting a black bear. I have had conversations with bears in the Sierras and I consider myself lucky to see a bear and converse with it. I've heard of people getting bear spray on their body or in their eyes and it sounds pretty horrible. A bear should never be close enough to you to spray - instead you go ballistic when the bear is still 20-30 feet away and throw rocks at it AND throw a large rock down onto another rock - that is a rockslide sound and in my experience - all bears run from it.
THE ONLY PROBLEM BEARS THAT I HAVE EVER ENCOUNTERED WERE IN NATIONAL PARKS.... and thats because of the way rangers and visitors treat them. Most animals avoid the parks, it seems, and hang out further from man - but not bears. I've never heard of a mountainlion incident in Yosemite, for instance, but they are thick other places in the Sierras. Somehow its the "teddy bears" that we have our problems with.
Unless you live in grizzly country - forget about bears. I mean don't be foolish - just don't worry and for (insert fav diets name - sake) do not shoot at bears, as they take offence at being wounded and if you're not bear hunting, whatever you're carrying probably won't drop a bear fast enough to keep it from killing you anyway. Sometimes I carry in bear or lion country when I have my dog or wife along - to protect them, but mostly to make a loud noise to scare things off - my concern being not to kill anything, but my .44 growls real loud. Anything that doesn't leave the area after a .44 goes off should be considered sick or insane and you maybe better shoot it - it could be rabid.
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I think a lot of the national park bear problems (besides hordes of tourists either actually feeding bears or at least leaving their food where the bears can get it) is that there is no hunting allowed. In national forests, where bears are hunted, they are generally quite shy. The exception, of course, is where they have gotten hold of food and realize that humans have food with them. This often happens around car campgrounds, but it can also happen in the wilderness. I'm sure I cited the case two years ago where some idiots went off for the day leaving an slab of bacon in their tent. Of course the bear followed his nose into the tent and learned that tents = bacon! The next group in the area was a trail maintenance crew; I understand they lost a couple of tents to the bear who was of course looking for more bacon. That's why, IMHO, even in areas where bears aren't (yet) an issue, we should protect our food. We don't want to train any more bears to go after human food! It's not just to protect our food; it's to protect the food of the hikers that come after us and especially to protect the bears--"habituated" bears invariably end up being shot.
Jim is correct that we don't need to carry bear spray for black bears in the US (although I understand there have been some problems with black bear in Canada). Grizz are, of course, another story!
It's interesting that so many people worry about wild animals when by far the biggest hazards to hikers are hypothermia, falls and auto accidents driving to/from the trailhead. The chances of getting killed or hurt by wildlife are quite minute, unless you do something utterly stupid. That's why the rare instances when it does happen make headline news (the "man bites dog" thing).
Edited by OregonMouse (12/10/1204:21 AM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
I think a lot of the national park bear problems (besides hordes of tourists either actually feeding bears or at least leaving their food where the bears can get it) is that there is no hunting allowed.
I do not correlate the problem bears with no hunting zones.
There are plenty of problem bears in other parts of the Sierra. They break into cabins at Huntington Lake, or along the east side of the Sierra, climbing into third story windows to do it. They have done so for decades.
I correlate them with the hordes and hordes of people - the more people there are doing stupid things like feeding them or leaving easy access to food, the more bear problems there will be. And the stats on the Yosemite website are wrong - would you self report a bear incident if you knew there was a potential that you would pay $5000 fine?
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki
I completely agree OM. In the southern sierras like monachi and tempelton meadows, where the bear population is very high, but also hunted. There is very little problem. I have a summer camp set up in Monachi and the tents never get messed with. Shoot the cabins always stocked full of food yet the bears never even atempt to break in. We see bear all the time on olancha mountian and they always run full speed away. We saw a 500 pounder this year that looked as big as a cow, belly dragging, grass hanging out of its mouth, once it saw us he bolted. If a bear never learns to fear humans they will take advantage of the easy opertunity. I'm NOT promoting mass shooting of bears, but responsible hunting and game management.
In ca bear hunting is pretty big and yet the populations are still exploding. Bears are encroaching western Nevada in places they've never been seen. Eastern side of the whites, the excelsior range, Benton range. Fish and game denies they are there but I've seen them multiple times. They are there. A bear who fear humans is a safe bear.
Remember for the 200 thousand years humans where/are the top predators. Many animals evolved in conjunction to this. It's only been since we started hunting groceries stores has the balance been lost. As well as overpopulation.
The wind wont howl if the wind don't break.
Loc: Washington State, King County
I do not correlate the problem bears with no hunting zones. ... I correlate them with the hordes and hordes of people
I suspect it's a bit of both, but have no data --- just gut feel. They're pretty smart and (where it counts) social animals, so I expect that their behavior is impacted by us hunting them! Certainly your example of them getting out of control where their territory overlaps population centers (outside of National Parks) is a big (perhaps indeed the dominant) factor too.
"And the stats on the Yosemite website are wrong - would you self report a bear incident if you knew there was a potential that you would pay $5000 fine?"
I expect it's rare, but in fact I do know of one such case. A girl who thru-hiked when I did was breaking the rules by sleeping with her food. She woke to a bear asking her for her food fairly politely, and then a bit more aggessively when she demurred (the bear put its paw on her thigh, she said it became very clear that she was going to have to give up her food). Talking to her about this at Tuolumne Meadows she said she had (or perhaps was about to) call and report it via a pay phone --- she felt responsible to report it, but wasn't inclined to be fined. So it can happen, but I agree with you; I suspect that at least some rule breakers care less or are just more oblivious to the results of bears getting their food. While I didn't agree with her choice of how to (not) protect her food, at least she was going to make sure the authorities knew what had happened.
Hmm, as pay phones continue to get more rare on the ground, I wonder how significant it is that well meaning people won't be able to anonymously report various things in future?
CA DFG estimates of California's bear population are available through 2010. It would appear to be a gradual increase for the last two decades, peaking in 2008 (20k-35k). This last year was tough on them due to the dry winter and greatly reduced food supply, which resulted in big upticks in bears coming into populated areas (e.g., Lake Tahoe) looking for food.
I'll speculate there was a big drop in 2012 cub survival rates, which will have an impact for the next few years.
That's perhaps a small part of it, but there's only an estimated 4-6,000 total in the state and per DFG "...there are indications that mountain lion activity, such as depredation, attacks on people, and predation on prey populations, peaked in 1996, then decreased somewhat, and have remained stable for the past several years."
Decreased deer population is primarily from habitat loss and poaching. We're talking a net reduction of nearly half a million, meaning the gross loss is rather huge.
Originally Posted By rockchucker22
Deer populations have suffered greatly in Ca for a host of reasons including the outlawing of lion hunts.
My brother in law works for dfg as a biologist, 90% of the studies he does get shelved incomplete and never used. Most of the info is limited to a few off based studies and extrapolated through out the rest of the state. The sad truth is they have no real idea and remain politically fractured/ influenced by powerful lobiest.
Thanks for the info Rick! Sorry for the off topic derail! I intend no hard feelings!
The wind wont howl if the wind don't break.
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Decreased deer population is primarily from habitat loss and poaching.
When times get tough people who live in rural areas will take game out of season. I hear shots around here now and then, and my dogs drag stuff home.
For the most part, that hasn't been a big problem here though. Not enough to have our Conservation Dept. bring it up as one. We have a lot of deer where we live, and this past couple years have been good to them.
Right now, no one here would get too upset if they knew someone who took a deer to feed their family. But it'd be unwise to push it too far because the Conservation Dept will show up on your doorstep and check all your freezers and fridges. I know a couple people who got visited and they haven't taken more than their limit since
F&G have an unpossible job--enhancing native wildlife while enhancing hunting and fishing. The two roles are frequently in direct opposition and the F&G commission is no help, being packed with cronies.
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