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#99144 - 07/07/08 08:41 AM quick question when tarping in areas with bears...
Cesar Offline
member

Registered: 11/06/07
Posts: 217
Loc: El Paso, TX
Do you take two tarps one to sleep under and one to cook under, while raining, since your not supposed to cook near your bag, or where you sleep? Ive seen a few videos and read a few posts about using a tarp and how you have enough space to sleep and to cook during a downpour. Is that a smart thing to do when there are bears in that region?
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#99145 - 07/07/08 10:59 AM Re: quick question when tarping in areas with bear [Re: Cesar]
phat Offline
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Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

Don't cook in your sleeping area in bear country. Cook away from it.

I don't take a seperate tarp - in fact I use my poncho tarp for this which then goes under
my hammock bottom when I sleep - but I don't cook in my sleeping area.

I firmly believe there is more food odor on my beard, and coming out of my bottom when I fart
while alseep, than attaches itself to a silnylon tarp while I'm boiling water, eating food, and making tea. Now if you're frying a pound of bacon and adding a packet of smoked salmon, and using the grease to waterproof your tarp, that's different - Don't so that <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

The key thing is don't cook where you are sleeping. keep a hundred meters or so from it.
and ditto your food storage from both your sleeping and cooking place.
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#99146 - 07/07/08 02:56 PM Re: quick question when tarping in areas with bear [Re: phat]
Cesar Offline
member

Registered: 11/06/07
Posts: 217
Loc: El Paso, TX
I didn't know you are supposed to hang food in a different location from where you cook? I just hung it in the nearest tree from my cooking area. Whats the reasoning behind that?

Anyhow yeah thats what I though... do not cook near your sleeping area. I guess a poncho tarp would work. But then you would need to put it up and take it down each time you need to go anywhere else.
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#99147 - 07/07/08 03:07 PM Re: quick question when tarping in areas with bear [Re: Cesar]
phat Offline
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Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Quote:
I didn't know you are supposed to hang food in a different location from where you cook? I just hung it in the nearest tree from my cooking area. Whats the reasoning behind that?


to have the least amount of food smell near the things you don't want the bear to get into
1) Your sleeping area
2) Your food.

IF your food is hanging right near something that smells tasty - more effort will be spent investigating it. having any kind of critter in your food sucks.

Most prepped campgrounds don't bother with it - but their bear poles are big and high and or
they have strong bear boxes - so they just keep the storage and eating/cooking areas nearby.

When I random camp - I don't bear hang near where I cook, or eat.

Quote:

Anyhow yeah thats what I though... do not cook near your sleeping area. I guess a poncho tarp would work. But then you would need to put it up and take it down each time you need to go anywhere else.


heh - "put up" a poncho tarp. For me this is usually put it on long enough to crawl under a spruce
tree and make my dinner there if it's really nasty out. OTOH, I've just worn it for the duration
and cooked with it in front of me. Alternatively if the eating area has a firepit then I might
actually set it up as a tarp and sit under it. takes about a minute and a half to set up on trekking poles if you practice <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />
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#99148 - 07/07/08 03:43 PM Re: quick question when tarping in areas with bear [Re: phat]
johndavid Offline
member

Registered: 04/23/08
Posts: 260
Loc: jersey city NJ
Brown or black bears?

I was tarp camping in a chaotic "campground" in Jasper many years ago that was heavily infested with black bears. As I went to sleep, I was seriously concerned that the bears, which were everywhere, would trip over my tarp lines.

So maybe you want to put reflectors on the lines or something so the bears don't hurt themselves falling.

Or, the point is, that while all of the above posts are sound, it's possible to worry too much about black bears. My girlfriend nearly spoiled our vacation due to paranoia over this.

Unless at very popular sites, you probably won't see them and if you do, they're generally not much trouble. Think of them as big racoons.

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#99149 - 07/07/08 04:52 PM Re: quick question when tarping in areas with bear [Re: johndavid]
phat Offline
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Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Well, since it's a beginner's forum, I won't countenance the "treat black bears like big raccoons" as much as I for the most part agree with it and I've been guilty treating them that way an awful lot myself. My Jasper's got grizzlies, and I give them a very healthy amount of respect. Nevertheless they're still darn cool, but any bear has to be treated with a modicum of respect, and I've seen 'em plenty but never had a problem with them. The only reason you should be "overrun" with bears in a campground is because people have been conditioning them, which eventually means they are dead. At least where I hike, We have lots more tourists than grizzlies - unfortunately they don't shoot the tourons - they shoot the conditioned bears <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> We fortuntely don't have a big problem with it most places
due to some aggressive education. I saw the last eastern slopes grizzly mortality study. The second biggest cause of grizzly death is the train line (grain spills, they come out and eat it, and get hit). The first biggest cause of grizzly death is "Native Harvest" [1] up here.

I've certianly not been "overrun" with black bears at any backcountry campground in jasper. I won't comment on the large roadside motorohome parkades that I avoid camping in like the plague - too many stupid people there!

[1] No Canadian politician has the stones to stand up and tell natives that taking money under the table for a rich american hunter to "native harvest" a grizzly bear is a crock.
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#99150 - 07/07/08 06:34 PM Re: quick question when tarping in areas with bear [Re: phat]
johndavid Offline
member

Registered: 04/23/08
Posts: 260
Loc: jersey city NJ
Racoons and bears do have a few similarities, size obviously not being one.

It's the same basic problem of a thieving disposition and lack of education and opportunity. Perhaps if a bear were the same size as a nasty racoon, I might take the bear for its better personality...but duno... whatever.

Fear of bears can really get debilitating for some people, and that's unnecessary, especially considering that most backpacking is done were there are no brown bears.


This incident I describe was in 1975 or so.

The park had a free campground for the "hippies" that was separate from whatever else they had in the way of camping near downtown Jasper.

There was zero management. It was located a mile or two west of Jasper, on the north side of a small a tributary right near where it entered the Athabaska River, from the west.

The night I stayed there, I was told that the majority of campers, lots of French Canadians and perhaps numbering 50-100, were on LSD, and having just gotten out of jail myself in Saskatoon due to a minor drug infraction, I was keeping my nose clean for the sake of the Crown.

The scene with the bears was comical and certainly a bit scary, and it continued nonstop. I'm not exaggerating about the tarp cords. I'm sure this was repeated day after day there that summer, and I wouldn't be surprised if something bad happened at some point.

No brown bears, although as I took a little walk up the creek, was being rather careful due to heavy brush. All I found besides bear tracks, was a group of naked young people engaged in a very weird, possibly drug-based ceremony of some kind.

Sadly, I'm sure all those bears are long dead.

Today instead of hippies I hear it's the elk that raise hell.

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#99151 - 07/07/08 07:11 PM Re: quick question when tarping in areas with bear [Re: johndavid]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Quote:

There was zero management. It was located a mile or two west of Jasper, on the north side of a small a tributary right near where it entered the Athabaska River, from the west.


Yeah, I know where that'd be - a bit before my time though. I'm sure it was in the days
before parks canada basically took over Jasper townsites "bear problems" - aka jasper
townsite's garbage problems <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


Quote:
Today instead of hippies I hear it's the elk that raise hell.


Yes, their number one target seems to be Japanese tourists. I never understood fully until I went to Japan, and visited Nara - where you are enouraged to pet, sit with, pose, and feed the deer. To someone from japan, anything potentially dangerous would of course be fenced off. So, having had the culture shock myself, going the other way, I'm at least sympathetic.

OTOH, when all the idiot photographers show up in the rut to take pictures of huge bulls
to sell to the hunting magazines and block the road getting too close, I like to practice my elk challenge calls out the window while driving around their vehicles. Getting whacked by an elk is too good for them, and fortunately, parks canada doesn't kill an elk who clobbers some bozo - they just tell the person who did stupid things that "we tell you not to do stupid things.. you didn't listen"
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#99152 - 07/07/08 07:22 PM Re: quick question when tarping in areas with bear [Re: johndavid]
northernbcr Offline
member

Registered: 05/26/08
Posts: 125
Loc: bc/yukon border area
to anyone reading this post, do not ever treat any bear like a big racoon. that is probally the worst advice ever written.black bears and grizzly ( not brown there is no such thing) are both very dangerous, and do not ever lose site of this fact. As for cooking in bear country stop an hour before camp cook dinner do dishes then hike to campsite. in morning pack up cook then leave. there is also light weight elec fences available run on 4 d cell. keep your bear spray on your person at all times, beside you when you sleep.

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#99153 - 07/07/08 07:27 PM Re: quick question when tarping in areas with bear [Re: johndavid]
midnightsun03 Offline
member

Registered: 08/06/03
Posts: 2936
Loc: Alaska
The OP said nothing about being afraid of bears, just being responsible around bears.

Just remember... a fed bear is a dead bear.

Please don't turn this thread into another rant about "irrational fear".

Thanks,
MNS (who lives and hikes in bear country)
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#99154 - 07/07/08 07:36 PM Re: quick question when tarping in areas with bear [Re: northernbcr]
johndavid Offline
member

Registered: 04/23/08
Posts: 260
Loc: jersey city NJ
Quote:
As for cooking in bear country stop an hour before camp cook dinner do dishes then hike to campsite. in morning pack up cook then leave. there is also light weight elec fences available run on 4 d cell. keep your bear spray on your person at all times, beside you when you sleep.


Yeah, you'll find in New Jersey a lot of people, in a dubious effort to foil the numerous black bears, will cook dinner at the railroad stations on their way home from work at night. Then in the morning, they get coffee on the road.

Unsightly electric bear fencing is very common, and there is a movement to make the local black bears wear collars, so that invisible dog fences could be used instead, thus helping to support property values.

Still others believe that concealed weapons are the best answer, as this entails an element of surprise.

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#99155 - 07/07/08 11:50 PM Re: quick question when tarping in areas with bear [Re: johndavid]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
While we encourage differing opinions here, please do not give advice that takes a cavalier attitude towards safety.

I am no expert on bears, but I can assure you, a bear is not a "big raccoon." Bears are very large, very strong and potentially very dangerous animals that are smarter than you think and should be treated as such. Anyone who thinks otherwise is asking for trouble.

A bear can and will rip a door off a car to get at a meal-there was one on display in Yosemite last time I was down in the Valley with the doors torn off by a bear. When is the last time you saw a Toyta dismantled by a raccoon? My guess is never.
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#99156 - 07/08/08 01:31 AM Re: quick question when tarping in areas with bear [Re: TomD]
johndavid Offline
member

Registered: 04/23/08
Posts: 260
Loc: jersey city NJ
You guys should see all the wrecked cars in Jersey! Total mess. Nasty creatures. I found this on Newark Star Ledger:



Track down bears on the Internet
ALLAN HOFFMAN
FOR THE STAR-LEDGER
625 words
28 May 2006
The Star-Ledger
FINAL
2
English
(c) 2006 The Star-Ledger. All rights reserved.

Apparently no one told the bears about New Jersey's "bear exclusion zones."

With bear country extending into communities such as Irvington and Short Hills, more and more people from the state's cities and suburbs are asking themselves questions about bears showing up in back yards.

What should you do if you encounter a bear? How fast can they run? And what is the difference, anyway, between a grizzly and a black bear?

Answers to questions like these are online.


Wildlife authorities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania both offer no-nonsense advice for what to do.

New Jersey's Division of Fish and Wildlife offers a variety of publications about bears ( www.njfishandwildlife.com/bearinfo.htm ), including one, "Be Bear Aware," with some sensible advice for encounters. "Do not feed the bear!" the experts caution. "Make sure the bear has an escape route."

"Living with Black Bears," a pamphlet available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission ( www.pgc.state.pa.us/pgc , then follow the links for wildlife and bears), includes a section labeled "What to do if you meet a bear." Once you have a laugh at the first tip ("Stay calm"), you will find the rest useful: get back, don't climb or run, pay attention and fight back.

The New Jersey and Pennsylvania pamphlets include these facts about black bears, among many others:

They run up to 35 mph.

They may also be cinnamon or blond in color.

Bear cubs weight just 8 ounces at birth.

The Bear Education and Resource Group, a New Jersey-based advocacy group ( www.savenj bears.com) includes a handy page of "useful links" to resources on topics such as bear-proof garbage containers, sterilization as a way to manage bear populations, and other animal rights organizations. An essay, "Afraid of Bears?" by Lynn Rogers, a well-known bear expert, delves into the ways bears have been demonized and misconceptions about them.

Rogers serves as principal biologist for the Wildlife Research Institute ( www.bearstudy.org ), a nonprofit in Ely, Minn., devoted to bear research. The organization's site includes a "mini-course" about black bears with scores of photographs. The course covers everything from hibernation habits to camping in bear country. It even includes sound files of bears growling and chomping.

A bit farther afield, you will find the International Bear Association ( www.bearbiology.com ), a nonprofit group dedicated to bear conservation. The organization serves bear researchers, but it does offer some helpful resources for people just learning about bears, like descriptions of species of bears, from the giant panda to the sloth bear to the black bears we've got right here in New Jersey.

TECHscan

Sometimes a Web site with a weirdly narrow focus turns out to be compelling in a strange sort of way. That's the case with www.mo jizu.com, a spot for artists (and art fans) to show off and share illustrated characters. Here you'll find Robot Goat, Kitten Parasite, Literary Dog and lots of others seeking your attention - and your ratings.

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#99157 - 07/08/08 09:15 AM Re: quick question when tarping in areas with bear [Re: johndavid]
midnightsun03 Offline
member

Registered: 08/06/03
Posts: 2936
Loc: Alaska
Johndavid...

The vast majority of people reading this website and camping/hiking in bear country aren't doing these activities in NJ. Urbanized black bears are more familiar with humans and their behaviors. Wild bears - the bears one might encounter in a larger park or wilderness area - are not familiar with human habits and behaviors and may be more unpredictable. Not that we're talking about bear attacks here - we're talking about not habituating bears to human food, because once they discover humans = picnic baskets, they can become even more brazen in their approach to and regard for humans. It doesn't take long for habituated bears to become nuisance bears, and then become dead bears.

Apparently you do not know anyone who has been mauled by a bear... I do. And sadly, Anchorage recently experienced it's first urban mauling that nearly killed a 15 year old participating in a mountain bike race in a city park. Most of our attacks here are brown bears, but black bears are very common in our neighborhoods, and they can be aggressive, especially if a person gets between them and a snack.

Here's an article that ran in Sunday's paper:

Bears Among Us

And be sure to check out the Urban Bear Photo Gallery... some great shots there.

Bears are not "big racoons." IMHO, It is absolutely irresponsible to even suggest that bears should not be given ample respect and treated as the wild creatures that they are (who deserve to remain wild).

MNS

Edit: Just recalled this - I had a co-worker who was sitting at home on the edge of Anchorage, minding her own business reading a book with her husband one evening when out of nowhere a black bear came through a window and into their house. Went on a mini-rampage and did a bit of damage. I don't honestly recall if it left on it's own or they killed it (it's been a couple of years now). It was a highly unusual event, for sure.


Edited by midnightsun03 (07/08/08 09:41 AM)
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#99158 - 07/08/08 11:09 AM Re: quick question when tarping in areas with bear [Re: midnightsun03]
Cesar Offline
member

Registered: 11/06/07
Posts: 217
Loc: El Paso, TX
Well I am new to backpacking and have yet to encounter any bear, at least while backpacking. We have a cabin in Ruidoso located on the edge of Lincoln National forest and have seen them around there. Anyhow I do have a healthy fear of them and have cooked a good distance from my camp site but would also hang my food in the same location. I will start hanging food in a different location from now on. But I was asking about the whole tarp and cooking because I can see the benefit of a 8x10 tarp compared to a solo tent while its raining but the problem would be the same. You still need to cook/boil water and you cant under the same tarp you plan to sleep and you really cant inside a tent.

Is it even wise to cook/boil water/eat under any tarp, not the one you sleep under, then carry it with you when you hike out?
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#99159 - 07/08/08 11:15 AM Re: quick question when tarping in areas with bear [Re: Cesar]
midnightsun03 Offline
member

Registered: 08/06/03
Posts: 2936
Loc: Alaska
Cesar...

One option might be to use a thin visquene sheet as your cook tarp and pack it into your bear canister if you're in bear canister area, or in your food bag otherwise. Also, if you use "freezer bag" cooking the odor level of your food will be minimized. Avoid strongly smelling foods, condiments, toothpaste, soap, perfume, etc. as bears will be attracted to these unfamiliar scents. I don't carry beef jerky or fish jerky with me even when I day hike here in summer.

MNS
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#99160 - 07/08/08 12:08 PM Re: quick question when tarping in areas with bear [Re: midnightsun03]
johndavid Offline
member

Registered: 04/23/08
Posts: 260
Loc: jersey city NJ
MS;

Part of the problem is you live in grizzley country. I hear they even reside within Anchorage city limits... But most backpackers never visit grizzley habitat and it's important not to confuse grizzley problems with black bear problems. Maybe I'm guilty of that.

Black bears can indeed be troublesome. One mistook a baby for a picnic basket only a short distance from New York City a few years ago, with tragic consequences.

Your point about "urbanized bears" versus "wild bears" seems a bit garbled.

I'm sure you mean the habituated bears are the ones that tend to cause problems (we're talking black, not brown bears. I don't pretend to know much about brown bears, other than that they are much more aggressive than black bears.)

Interestingly, the Eurasian brown bear is the very same species as the grizzley. Yet for some reason grizzley's reputation seems a bit worse. I wonder if it's just a human cultural matter, or something else.

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#99161 - 07/08/08 01:49 PM Re: quick question when tarping in areas with bear [Re: johndavid]
midnightsun03 Offline
member

Registered: 08/06/03
Posts: 2936
Loc: Alaska
According to Fish and Game estimates, we have between 200 and 300 BLACK bears roaming around Anchorage and environs. They don't threaten humans much, but they do cause more and more damage to structures and domestic animals, and are getting more and more bold as time goes on. I think it will be just a matter of time before a black bear decides to not back off from a human interaction. Already a number of black bears have wound up dead after entering occupied homes. And as a side note, we really aren't encroaching on their territory all that much, but aside from humans, there aren't many natural predators and they seem to have done well population-wise over the last few years. We have VERY strict laws here about garbage and birdfeeders, storing dogfood outdoors, etc. so that bears don't get too used to finding easy meals in someone's back yard.

Just because I live in Griz country, doesn't mean that I don't have a very healthy respect for blackies. I fully believe in keeping wild animals wild, and it is our responsibility to do everything in our power to prevent them from becoming habituated.

MNS
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#99162 - 07/08/08 04:01 PM Re: quick question when tarping in areas with bear [Re: midnightsun03]
johndavid Offline
member

Registered: 04/23/08
Posts: 260
Loc: jersey city NJ
Yes. From ADFG:

"The Municipality of Anchorage is Alaska's largest city. Its human population numbers about 280,000 in 2008, about 40% of the state's population. Residents also include 250-350 American black bears and 55-65 brown (aka grizzly) bears."

Gee, less than 700,000 people and two U.S. senators. Maybe you should get the bears registered to vote.

So, as far as the OP's question, and assuming the concern is strictly black bears, one tarp is adequate. I'd cook under the tarp, if weather or whatever other circumstances suggested this.

Storing food away from sleeping area is a great idea.

In areas where brown bears occur, I understand that more elaborate precautions are appropriate.

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#99163 - 07/08/08 06:31 PM Re: quick question when tarping in areas with bear [Re: midnightsun03]
scottyb Offline
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Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 278
Loc: Texas Hill Country
I've been following this thread with some interest. I lived in Anchorage in the late 70's and had family and friends there for years after. I remember an accomplished senior crosscountry runner and her adult male son were mauled to death outside of Anchorage in the Chugach Mtns, in the mid 90's. Her grandson was able to escape. It was then reported to have been a black bear and there was signs that he was protecting a moose kill. This really shocked me because I was of the opinion that they were not much of a threat and I never had much concern while BP'ing there.
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#99164 - 07/08/08 06:45 PM Re: quick question when tarping in areas with bear [Re: scottyb]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

Any bear is dangerous around a kill or around cubs.
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#99165 - 07/08/08 07:30 PM Re: quick question when tarping in areas with bear [Re: phat]
johndavid Offline
member

Registered: 04/23/08
Posts: 260
Loc: jersey city NJ
Yeah apparently the Chugach area incident recalled by Scottyb involved a bear defending a moose kill.

It was believed to be a brown bear, not a black, and two joggers were killed.

http://www.adn.com/bearattacks/story/204077.html

Not too nice. ADFW says it knows of 20 such incidents that occurred in the state during the first 85 years of the previous century. The rate is increasing. There's now nearly 700,000 people there.

I think ADFW (uh.. or maybe it was USGS) also says it knows of 30 people were killed by dogs in Alaska during the 1980s. Their point in saying so is a desire for perspective regarding bears danger. I'm assuming the dangerous dog rate is probably rising too. Both risks are probably increasing only relative to human population... IMHO (in my humble opinion).

The government aims, I do imagine, to put out accurate information, but certainly doesn't want to scare tourists away.

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#99166 - 07/09/08 06:46 AM Re: quick question when tarping in areas with bear [Re: johndavid]
Paddy_Crow Offline
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Registered: 11/08/04
Posts: 2285
Loc: Michigan
Anyone catch the piece on ABC's Primetime last night? It was about this guy in Alaska, Charlie Vandergaw, who lives with and treats bears on his property like pets. Many have compared him to Timothy Treadwell, although the primary difference is that the bears come to his property. Very fascinating to observe the behavior of the animals.

I had seen the Animal Planet piece on him as well.

Bear Haven

Anyway, in my opinion a black bear should be treated with the same degree of respect as a grizzly. Not fear, but respect.

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#99167 - 07/09/08 07:28 AM Re: quick question when tarping in areas with bear [Re: Paddy_Crow]
jshannon Offline
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Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 410
Loc: North Texas
I saw the show. They should put a stop to Charlie's bear shop.
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#99168 - 07/09/08 09:48 AM Re: quick question when tarping in areas with bear [Re: jshannon]
JAK Offline
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Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 2569
Quote:
I saw the show. They should put a stop to Charlie's bear shop.
I saw the show too. It really was quite fascinating. He raises some questions. Hunting and human encroachment have always impacted bear demographics and behaviour, both positively and negatively, so why not him? Who decides how bear demographics and behaviour should be impacted? Other than scientific research, should hunting be the only interaction we have with bears? I would argue in favour of minimal impact, but who decides what bear demographics and behaviour are desirable for a region, and how best to achieve it? What is natural bear behaviour? What is natural human behaviour? Who really knows? Who decides?

His lifestyle does put a whole new meaning on the Uncertainty Principle.

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