Author Topic: Bears  (Read 4867 times)

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Offline freightbike

Re: Bears
« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2013, 10:17:43 pm »
I definitely agree about the other animals being more of a problem than bears. I once had to hit a large raccoon with a stick to get it away from my dinner. It jumped up on the table as I was eating and tried to growl and snarl me away from my food. Some people I had met while camping on the lower saddle of the Grand Teton, had a marmot chew a hole through their pack, through their bag of granola and out the other side. Squirels, rats and chipmunks, (minibears) Ravens in the san juan islands pecking through the sealed thick plastic wrapper of packaged cheese. A New Zealand kea bird eating part of my bike seat. Farm dogs. I had a pair farm dogs chase me for about ten miles in western Missouri.
May the wind at your back always smell like home.
                  MORG

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Bears
« Reply #16 on: April 17, 2013, 12:07:14 am »
Campground hosts may not be entirely reliable, reference our stay at Newhalem, WA.  Bear signs, but no bear boxes, and we didn't have rope to hang food.  So I asked the host if there was some place we could store our (depleted) food, and he told me, don't worry about it, they haven't had a bear in the campground for 10-15 years.  So we left panniers on bikes overnight and didn't worry -- until we got back to civilization, and in contact with my wife.  She'd been cruising various journals, and somebody had taken a picture of a bear walking through that same campground a week earlier.  At least he didn't bother our stuff!

Was this the Colonial Creek Campground in North Cascades National Park? We got the same info from the camp host when we inquired about bear boxes. (And found out afterward about bears in the vicinity.) We hid our food in the "utility sink room" in the bathroom. (Fun fact: They had installed bear boxes when we were there in 2011, but they were all in one spot on the far side of the campground. Very convenient.)

But most of the National Park campgrounds I've stayed in have secure trash cans and dumpsters, including Colonial Creek.

This may be one of those motorist/non-motorist split kind of things.  The bears hadn't started to break into campers, cars, or even locked motorcycle boxes, so the host may have honestly thought there was no problem.

True, but if a campground has dumpsters and trash cans that aren't animal proof, the bears and other animals are going to go for them. What's inside a locked car is small potatoes compared to scores of garbage bags of food scraps in an unsecured dumpster. So if there are problem animals in the area, I'm guessing they would have found those dumpsters and trash cans by now, and the camp hosts would realize that.

Offline jamawani

Re: Bears
« Reply #17 on: April 17, 2013, 01:23:15 am »
Have you read "Night of the Grizzlies"?
Highly recommended for when you are camping in the Rockies.

Offline Miller

Re: Bears
« Reply #18 on: April 17, 2013, 09:07:34 am »
I am from grizzly country and have cycled, hiked, and camped without incident.
I have had grizzly tracks around my tent the next morning.

First, NEVER take any food into your tent.
If you've had food in your tent, I would suggest getting another.

In a similar vein, do not pack you tent in a pannier with your food.

Second, in bear country change out of your cooking/eating clothes.
You may not smell the food odors, but a bear can and will.

I took food in my tent last year in an area with no bears. Should I be concerned about using that tent this year in black bear country?

Third, learn to hang you food and toiletries in a bearproof manner.
Grizzlies are too large to get correctly hung packs,
But black bear cubs - esp, around Yosemite NP have figured out how to get them.

In areas with bad bear problems, you must use a bearproof cannister.
Most frontcountry campgrounds have bear boxes - -
But you should know how to hang your food - just in case.

Parks Canada - Appropriate for Northern Rockies, too -
http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/mtn/ours-bears/sec7/og-bm7.aspx

I took food in my tent last year in an area with no bears. Should I be concerned about using that same tent this year in black bear country?
« Last Edit: April 17, 2013, 09:09:27 am by Miller »

Offline staehpj1

Re: Bears
« Reply #19 on: April 17, 2013, 11:13:21 am »
I took food in my tent last year in an area with no bears. Should I be concerned about using that same tent this year in black bear country?
Some would say yes.  Me. I wouldn't worry unless maybe you cooked and/or really slopped food around in there.  My impression is that you will carry some food odors in on your body and clothing.  I think bears can tell the difference between some odor on a human and food actually in there.

Offline Miller

Re: Bears
« Reply #20 on: April 17, 2013, 11:33:03 am »
I took food in my tent last year in an area with no bears. Should I be concerned about using that same tent this year in black bear country?
Some would say yes.  Me. I wouldn't worry unless maybe you cooked and/or really slopped food around in there.  My impression is that you will carry some food odors in on your body and clothing.  I think bears can tell the difference between some odor on a human and food actually in there.

No cooking or spills. Crumbs at the most and I shook those out a long time ago. I agree that even if you do everything right--cook in different clothes than you sleep and eat in, eat far away from camp, etc there are bound to be odors (even soap from showering) and hopefully that is less attractive to a bear than food per se.

If I wanted to err on the side of safety is there anything I could do to reduce possible lingering odors? Wash with water or some special kind of soap (or would that cause more problems)?

Offline TwoWheeledExplorer

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Re: Bears
« Reply #21 on: April 17, 2013, 11:34:23 am »
As a park ranger, I will tell you that most bear fears are over-rated. I have pulled into a campground on the Chequamegon National Forest (Wisconsin, prime black bear territory) and had a bear run right across the road in front of me, maybe 20 feet away. Never heard or saw a thing out of them the rest of the stay. (Two nights.) Most of the time, consider yourself fortunate to see a bear, black or grizzly. That doesn't mean you shouldn't take precautions; I have had friends (former wilderness rangers) who were mauled by a female griz while hiking in Glacier National Park. They were doing everything correctly, and just got into the wrong place at the wrong time. But you are more likely to be struck by lightning then attacked by a bear. Check out the US Forest Service "Be Bear Aware" website for good advice: http://www.centerforwildlifeinformation.org/BeBearAware/bebearaware.html
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Offline TwoWheeledExplorer

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Re: Bears
« Reply #22 on: April 17, 2013, 11:38:45 am »
Have you read "Night of the Grizzlies"?
Highly recommended for when you are camping in the Rockies.

That's mean.  ::) I don't think scaring travelers should be the point. Unprovoked grizzly attacks like that are VERY rare, particularly in the Lower 48. I would suggest "Staying Safe In Bear Country" instead.
The Two-Wheeled Explorer: Ride the River
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"Every person has a river to ride...you are to Ride the River."--Pr. Larry Christenson

Offline jamawani

Re: Bears
« Reply #23 on: April 17, 2013, 06:14:51 pm »
That's mean.  ::) I don't think scaring travelers should be the point. Unprovoked grizzly attacks like that are VERY rare, particularly in the Lower 48. I would suggest "Staying Safe In Bear Country" instead.

Actually, it is similar to those who enjoy riding the most extreme roller-coaster or teenagers who watch horror movies at midnight.  "Night of the Grizzlies" is one of the best books written about a time when tourists practiced few, if any, of the safety procedures discussed in this thread.  In fact, grizzlies were still fed garbage in Yellowstone to entertain tourists in the 1960s.

"Night of the Grizzlies" was important in how it questioned park policy in a number of areas -

1. The intentional or tolerated practice by park service of having garbage to attract bears.
2. The emphasis upon tourist values rather than habitat needs of the bears.
3. The limited outdoor skills of the thousands of seasonal park workers.

"Night of the Grizzlies" had a major impact on public perception.

I'm also sorry that your friends were mauled in Glacier.
As grizzly populations rebound, there is greater competition for resources among bears -
In addition, there is increasing backcountry pressure from hikers.
That's why places like Yellowstone have significant early season trail closures.

I agree with you that front country encounters with grizzlies are extremely rare.
Camp robbers are usually black bears - with repeat offenders killed by park personnel.
So the REAL threat created by food left out is to the bears - not the humans.

Offline jamawani

Re: Bears
« Reply #24 on: April 17, 2013, 06:21:08 pm »
Miller - It depends on how you plan to use your tent.  If you are planning on doing significant backcountry hiking in the northern Rockies, then maybe I'd use another one.  If you simply will be camping in developed sites, then I would wash it according to manufacturers' instructions - light non-degreasing liquid - and allow it to air for an extended period.  Campgrounds already have so many food odors, I suspect your tent will provide little attraction.

PS - Make sure your tent is totally dry before packing it unless you like that mildew-tent smell.

Offline matthewjsteger

Re: Bears
« Reply #25 on: April 17, 2013, 07:29:59 pm »
The risk of bear (e.g. grizzly) encounters are serious while riding the Continental Divide Trail.  While on that ride, I'd suggest keeping a whistle tied around your neck through ALL of the Northern Rockies.  Blow real hard and say your prayers if you have an encounter with one and are actually danger.  Skip the bear spray (it won't stop one) and the gun (you won't react in time).  That's just my own advise and opinion for the Continental Divide Trail, of course. 

I think that the risk of encountering them while riding the TransAm, on the other hand, is very low, unless you're camping in some serious off-route backcountry.  While riding the TransAm through the Northern Rockies, it's plainly obvious where bears will be a threat.  You'll see bear-proof dumpsters and garbage cans lining those portions of the route.  Bear-boxes, in which to store your food at night, are omnipresent at campgrounds in that region.

Appalachia does have black bears and they're known to be a nuisance, but they are not a threat.  In the event of a middle-of-the-night campsite encounter with a black bear, the only real threat they pose to you is when they tear your gear apart and ruin it in order to get to your food.  Mice, of course, can do the same kind of damage.

While riding the TransAm, the only precautions I took when in bear country were the obvious ones:  use the bear boxes available and, when they're not available, don't sleep with any food.  While it is sage advice that you should do your cooking, eating, washing, and storage of anything and everything that might be food-related (including the clothing you wore while cooking your food) at a soccer field's distance from where you sleep, it is advise that is complete overkill (no pun intended) for 98% of the campgrounds in the Northern Rockies.  The ubiquitous food-stocked RVs, which turn many of the Northern Rockies campgrounds into 'Walt Disney World Goes Camping', should provide a bit of perspective on this.

When I wasn't in bear country, I took precautions to keep the mice at bay in the event of them wanting some of my food.  Their threat is completely underrated, in my opinion.  No, they won't kill you.  But on the other hand, they can chew holes in your expensive gear (good-bye waterproof capabilities).  To prevent this from happening, I'd keep my food, toothpaste, and soap in a bag that I could afford to lose.  This bag would stay with me under my tarp/tent, coddled in my arms and at the ready for my insatiable midnight snacking (soap and toothpaste excluded), or in any other convenient spot, so long as something expensive couldn't get chewed through if one of those miniature-grizzlies waltzed onto the scene.

In summary, I skipped the bear-bagging, bear spray, whistle, and 357 magnum while riding the TransAm.  I'm comfortable with the choice I made and would do it the same way again.  The less weight, the better!   

Offline newfydog

Re: Bears
« Reply #26 on: April 18, 2013, 11:58:26 am »
Don't worry about the bears.  You-tube search "moose tramplings".

Offline TwoWheeledExplorer

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Re: Bears
« Reply #27 on: April 18, 2013, 03:35:30 pm »
That's mean.  ::) I don't think scaring travelers should be the point. Unprovoked grizzly attacks like that are VERY rare, particularly in the Lower 48. I would suggest "Staying Safe In Bear Country" instead.

"Night of the Grizzlies" was important in how it questioned park policy in a number of areas -

1. The intentional or tolerated practice by park service of having garbage to attract bears.
2. The emphasis upon tourist values rather than habitat needs of the bears.
3. The limited outdoor skills of the thousands of seasonal park workers.

"Night of the Grizzlies" had a major impact on public perception.

The book is also 50 years old. There is much better information and science available today.
The Two-Wheeled Explorer: Ride the River
www.twowheeledexplorer.org
"Every person has a river to ride...you are to Ride the River."--Pr. Larry Christenson

Offline geegee

Re: Bears
« Reply #28 on: April 18, 2013, 08:04:02 pm »
Don't worry about the bears.  You-tube search "moose tramplings".

In northern Quebec, you just share the path with them:

https://www.facebook.com/video/embed?video_id=159960900829962

Offline Miller

Re: Bears
« Reply #29 on: April 18, 2013, 10:18:32 pm »
Miller - It depends on how you plan to use your tent.  If you are planning on doing significant backcountry hiking in the northern Rockies, then maybe I'd use another one.  If you simply will be camping in developed sites, then I would wash it according to manufacturers' instructions - light non-degreasing liquid - and allow it to air for an extended period.  Campgrounds already have so many food odors, I suspect your tent will provide little attraction.

PS - Make sure your tent is totally dry before packing it unless you like that mildew-tent smell.

Thanks, Jamawani. Yeah, probably campgrounds this year in NY but maybe some more primitive campgrounds next year (in the northeast). I'll wash and air out the tent this year regardless and I would hope that between that and the passage of another year that I would be OK with primitive camping (next year).
« Last Edit: April 18, 2013, 10:20:11 pm by Miller »