Author Topic: Dogs n' bears  (Read 10618 times)

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Offline preston uk

Dogs n' bears
« on: October 30, 2015, 03:49:53 pm »
I've read several journals of the crazyguy site. Dogs in East Kentucky seem to be a problem.  Can anyone suggest deterrents ? Do dog dazers or whistles work ?  I've also spotted that some transamers have carried 'bear boxes ' and others haven't. Given that the others have survived  are bbs really necessary ? I was going to hang tasty items from a tree. (The nearest thing we get to a dangerous mammal in the UK is a feral teenager).
Thanks

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Dogs n' bears
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2015, 04:52:08 pm »
Bear boxes are containers to store/protect food that can be smelled/eaten by wild animals.  Bears, wolves, coyotes, etc.  They help to minimize contacts between people and animals at inappropriate times.  I think hunters use bear boxes.  If a hunter kills a deer, or brings a day or two of fresh food with them when camping, then they will put the raw/fresh food/kill in the bear box at night.  Very few bikers carry raw food with them.  Do you cycle with raw meat?  Most bikers who are cooking their food will carry rice or noodles or cheese or cans of tuna or oatmeal.  Many just buy the food they are going to cook that night and carry no food while riding and have no food left overnight.  I don't think Gu packs or energy bars or granola bars or fresh apples or bananas are foods that bears or coyotes are attracted to.  Bikers have these foods 24 hours a day usually.  On your biking travels, what foods do you have overnight in camp that would need to go in a bear box?

And bears are not very plentiful in the US.  They are very rare.  There are only a few places in the US with any bears.  Wolves are not much more common.  They are rare too.  Coyotes are very plentiful.  Coyotes are everywhere in the US.  But coyotes do not hunt human sized animals.  Coyotes eat small animals and scavenge.  Wildlife is not very dangerous in the US.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Dogs n' bears
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2015, 06:07:04 pm »
I don't think you need to do anything special about dogs. Keep your wits about you. If you can't outrun the dog, stop and use your bike as a shield. If a pack of dogs attack you at the same time, you're screwed.

Bear protection depends on where you are going. In the lower 48, you're generally okay by using proper precautions with food.

Offline DaveB

Re: Dogs n' bears
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2015, 07:22:42 pm »
The best dog deterrent is "pepper spray", available in various sizes and strength, in many big box and sporting goods stores.  There was a low strength OC spray called "Halt", developed for the Postal service for issue to their mail carriers to use on aggressive dogs, that was often sold in bike shops and may still be.   High strength OC spray is even more effective on dogs and the rare 2-legged nuisance too.   


Offline staehpj1

Re: Dogs n' bears
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2015, 08:48:19 pm »
We were chased by dogs here and there on the Trans America mostly in Missouri and Kentucky, but it wasn't a big deal.

Bears...  Most places where bears are a problem there are bear boxes in the campgrounds.  We didn't see bears on the TA, but a number of times we just missed seeing one that had been in camp shortly before we arrived.  On the Sierra Cascades route we saw quite a few bears, ut again there were bear boxes in the places with the most bear problems.

I wouldn't carry a bear canister on a bike tour in the lower 48.  I do hang my food in some places.

BTW, often racoons are a bigger problem than bears, but I still wouldn't carry a canister on a bike tour.  I have only very rarely seen a bike tourist carrying a bear canister.

I think canisters are just too much extra weight, but they do make a nice seat if you are inclined to not mind the extra weight.

Offline Patco

Re: Dogs n' bears
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2015, 12:14:30 pm »
There are more than 100,000 black bears in the western states (more than 200,000 in Alaska).  Some may consider that rare, I do not. What is somewhat rare is seeing a black bear. As to a bear container while biking, like others on this site I do not consider it necessary. However, I never keep food or anything with a smell (deodorant, toothpaste, energy bars, suntan lotion) in my tent when I am in bear country. I will hang it or place it away from the tent. Also, it isn't just bears, it is also squirrels, chipmunks and other rodent type animals that can be bothersome. They will chew through a pack to get to a sealed energy bar. I have seen it happen. So, keep any and all foodstuffs and any and all items with any type of odor out of your tent. It is all about camp safety when backpacking or camping while biking. You may want to read some backpacking books about camp safety. That is useful information whether backpacking, car camping, or bike camping.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Dogs n' bears
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2015, 02:52:40 pm »
As Pete said, there'll be bear boxes in most campgrounds where bears are a problem.  If you wild camp between campgrounds with bear boxes, put all your food in a stuff sack or small pannier, and use the 50' of 1/8" parachute cord you've been carrying all this time "just in case" to hang it out of reach (generally 10-12' high).

I had good luck with Halt.  You may have to look around to find the Halt carrier that fits on you handlebar.  Grab and squirt when a dog gets too close.  Smart (or at least experienced) dogs will recognize the can, and stay one foot further than you can spray; but at least they're not biting from that distance.

OTOH, one of my treasured memories is cruising down a hill in eastern Kentucky.  Six 'coon dogs came out of four yards to form a pack and chase me.  But I was going downhill, with a load, and I outran them all!

Offline preston uk

Re: Dogs n' bears
« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2015, 07:04:16 am »
You have all been very kind. I am going to go with the pepper spray and will practice my quick draw  to become the fastest ' gun' in the west.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Dogs n' bears
« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2015, 07:37:23 am »
There are more than 100,000 black bears in the western states (more than 200,000 in Alaska).  Some may consider that rare, I do not.

I'd add that in portions of the East there are quite a few as well.  I don't consider them rare at all.  Seeing them on the Trans America isn't too likely, but it isn't unusual either.  On the Sierra Cascades route not seeing them would be unusual.  According to the Black Bear Society the population of black bears is as follows:
Alabama - 50
Alaska - 200,000
Arizona - 3,000
Arkansas - 4,000
California - 30,000
Colorado - 11,000
Connecticut - 350
Delaware - 0
Florida - 3,000
Georgia - 5,000
Hawaii - 0
Idaho - 20,000
Illinois - 0
Indiana - 0
Arizona - 3,000
Iowa - 0
Kansas - 0
Louisiana - 700
Maine - 25,000
Maryland - 600
Massachusetts - 3,000
Michigan - 18,000
Minnesota - 20,000
Mississippi - 180
Missouri - 200
Montana - 10,000
Nebraska - 0
Nevada - 225
New Hampshire - 5,000
New Jersey - 3,500
New Mexico - 6,000
New York - 6,500
North Carolina - 13,000
North Dakota - 0
Ohio - 70
Oklahoma - 800
Oregon - 27,500
Pennsylvania - 14,000
Rhode Island - 10
South Carolina - 1,200
South Dakota - 0
Tennessee - 4,500
Texas - 250
Utah - 2,000
Vermont - 4,100
Virginia - 16,000
Washington - 30,000
West Virginia - 10,000
Wisconsin - 35,000
Wyoming - unknown (I'd add that while the number here is unknown there are quite a few)

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Dogs n' bears
« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2015, 09:34:53 am »
There are more than 100,000 black bears in the western states (more than 200,000 in Alaska).  Some may consider that rare, I do not.

I'd add that in portions of the East there are quite a few as well.

Hunterdon County, New Jersey this past June:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/105349603@N05/22648771866/in/dateposted-public/

OP: If there is a bear box, use it. Some places such as national parks require you to use them if they are provided. Ignore the safe storage rules in Glacier N.P., for example,  and you could easily be fined. Saw it happen. In a scene out of a Yogi Bear cartoon two campers at Sprague Creek left a picnic basket on the table of their campsite and walked away. Ranger happened by not 5 minutes later and wrote them up.

In the end, I think you will have are more trouble with rodents than with bears. On my first tour a squirrel ripped through the mesh of my tent to get a loaf of bread I left in there.

Offline litespeed

Re: Dogs n' bears
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2015, 02:31:28 pm »
I have bicycle toured and camped in 44 states and two Canadian provinces. I don't pack cooking gear. The only incident of animal trouble I can recall was the numerous raccoons in Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine, Florida. You can't turn your back on anything edible and they prowled around my tent all night. When passing through there I now stay at the KOA a mile or two down the road.

Once while backpacking in Yosemite a bear unzipped (?) a pocket on my backpack at night and clawed out some food but no real damage was done - just lost some food.

Offline jamawani

Re: Dogs n' bears
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2015, 02:47:16 am »
Your voice is the first deterrent against dogs.
If you can rival Pavarotti and use choice words, a dog will back down.
Unlike most here - I do not carry dog spray -
I have rarely had to jump off my bike - I jump TOWARDS the dog.
I have never been bitten. But you have to be dominant.

As for bears, any state or national park in bear country should have beat boxes. Use them.
If you random camp in bear country - and you should for the pleasures this offers -
You should know basic bear camping techniques -

https://www.princeton.edu/~oa/training/bearbag.shtml

NEVER eat in your tent. The odors remain.
Not just for bears, but also for raccoons - who will rip open your tent to get to food.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Dogs n' bears
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2015, 07:34:50 pm »
I don't think bears are as common as some people on this site seem to believe.  So I took Pete's numbers of black bears per state, and some information from Wikipedia showing the square mileage in each state.  And created the table below.  I assumed Wyoming had the same number of bears as Colorado since his data was incomplete for Wyoming.  Wyoming and Colorado border each other and have the Rockies running through them.

State                    sq mi     Bears   Sq Mi/Bear
 Arizona            113,594     3,000   37.9
 California            155,779   30,000   5.2
 Colorado            103,641   11,000   9.4
 Idaho             82,643   20,000   4.1
 Montana            145,545   10,000   14.6
 Nevada            109,781        225   487.9
 New Mexico    121,298     6,000   20.2
 Oregon             95,988   27,500   3.5
 Utah                     82,169     2,000   41.1
 Washington     66,455   30,000   2.2
 Wyoming             97,093   11,000   8.8
Total                1,173,986   150,725   7.8

For the entire western states, that is all of the states with the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, it averages out to one black bear per 7.8 square miles.  About 2.8 miles by 2.8 miles.  One bear in this area.  150 thousand bears in about 1.2 million square miles.  In California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, there are fewer square miles per bear.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Dogs n' bears
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2015, 08:32:28 pm »
Bear boxes are containers to store/protect food that can be smelled/eaten by wild animals.  Bears, wolves, coyotes, etc.  They help to minimize contacts between people and animals at inappropriate times.  I think hunters use bear boxes.  If a hunter kills a deer, or brings a day or two of fresh food with them when camping, then they will put the raw/fresh food/kill in the bear box at night.  Very few bikers carry raw food with them.  Do you cycle with raw meat?  Most bikers who are cooking their food will carry rice or noodles or cheese or cans of tuna or oatmeal.  Many just buy the food they are going to cook that night and carry no food while riding and have no food left overnight.  I don't think Gu packs or energy bars or granola bars or fresh apples or bananas are foods that bears or coyotes are attracted to.  Bikers have these foods 24 hours a day usually.  On your biking travels, what foods do you have overnight in camp that would need to go in a bear box?

And bears are not very plentiful in the US.  They are very rare.  There are only a few places in the US with any bears.
On the notion that bears are mostly interested in raw meat...  That is just plain wrong.  Black bears are omnivores and additionally in some places have become habituated to stealing human food and they like pretty much any of it including cans.  In the Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite parks they break into cars where the see pretty much any human food.  It is illegal to not put all food and scented products like toiletries in the bear boxes.  The ranger tells you when you enter the park, they make rounds reminding folks, and they write tickets with fines attached for violators.

For the entire western states, that is all of the states with the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, it averages out to one black bear per 7.8 square miles.  About 2.8 miles by 2.8 miles.  One bear in this area.  150 thousand bears in about 1.2 million square miles.  In California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, there are fewer square miles per bear.
What constitutes plentiful is debatable, but those numbers and my experiences don't line up with your "very rare" and "only a few places in the US with any bears" comments.  Yes I would stop short of saying they are plentiful, but I'd also wouldn't call them very rare either.

Depending on where you tour goes the chances of seeing a bear may be anything from non-existent to fairly likely.  For example I think that if you were to ride the Sierra Cascades route or even just the Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia portion you are probably more likely to see a bear than not.  In that section I think we saw 6 different bears in 4 different locations.  I saw bears there when I was backpacking as well.

Doing the TA, it isn't all that unusual to see a bear, but yes it is probably more likely that you won't.

So bottom line most folks won't see a bear when on tour unless in places where they are most common,but failing to use bear boxes where they are supplied would be foolish, illegal in many places, and people who don't use them are causing bears to become human habituated and ultimately be put down.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Dogs n' bears
« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2015, 09:02:29 pm »
Here is a detailed answer about dogs. I wrote it on another thread for a person planning a transcon on a recumbent.
As for dogs on tour, I have had many experiences with them. Some cyclists might carry pepper spray, which I have done but never used. I saw another advise carrying a water pistol containing a mixture of water and ammonia; this I have never done. The fact is that dogs can be an occasional annoyance or hassle or whatever, but by and large they are not a real danger unless one comes charging at you from out of nowhere, startling you, and causing you to involuntarily swerve out into traffic. It happens.

There is something about the movement of cycling that sets dogs off into a headstrong frenzy of barking and chasing. I mean, you come along, and there is some dog in a yard. It has been lolling around all day perhaps. It catches sight of you going by on your bike, and it immediately goes nuts. It starts barking, snarling, yelping, and growling, and chasing you at high speed and going for your heels with all its might. I have seen dogs go absolutely bananas at the sight of me cycling, even if I was two hundred feet away from them. I have seen them come charging out at me, stopped only by a fence around the property. They would follow all along the fence line to the end, and then go ape trying to jump over the fence or tunnel under it.  This kind of reaction comes from dogs of all sizes from the largest dogs to even those little Mexican Chihuahuas. That is no kidding. I was cycling through some town. Somebody was carrying one of those little Mexican dogs. It saw me. It went crazy trying to jump from its owners arms and chase along.

I have worked out a manner of dealing with dogs. In spite of all the noise and chases not one dog has ever actually bitten me.  However, they do seem to be fond of going for the feet, and some have come close to biting. First, slow down a bit, look at the dog and yell out a loud, sharp report, and when I say loud and sharp that is what is meant; something like you might expect to hear from a marine corps drill sargeant. You might have to yell a number of times. The yelling will bring some dogs to a halt. Some will stop temporarily and continue, and slow down or halt every time you yell. Just yell out hut or ha loud, sharp, and clear. If that does not dissuade the cur from pursuing his pleasure or whatever it is he gets out of the chase, come to a dead stop and give him the yell. He will stop. He may turn around and take off. He may tarry a while and snip and growl. He may come close, but my experience is the actual attack will not happen. I have cycled 34,000 miles through 19 countries, and six or more times across the USA, so I know of what I speak.

I have always ridden an upright touring bike, therefore, having a dog running along and chasing at my heels is a different matter from riding a recumbent with the animal more nearly at the vital parts such as torso, head, and throat. My general advice is this. If you are concerned, do what I have told you, and carry a water pistol with water and ammonia in it, if legal to do so, or a very good pepper spray, not one of those little key chain things, but a canister with a real fog or large volume spray that comes out, but do not use it as a first response. If you yell and stop and yell, the dog will stop his pursuit. In other words, do not run and it will not chase. Often, as you are stopped at the roadside waiting for the animal to lose interest, its owner will come out and call it back, and it trots on home. If you stop and it stops and loses interest, it might head back to its territory on its own, but if you take off it will turn around and continue chasing. Dogs, for the most part, are a temporary nuisance, but not a real serious danger. However, I am sure cyclists have been actually attacked, and perhaps even injured.

When stopped, the hound may come close, but will not actually sink its teeth into your hide. If it is particularly vicious or mean, give him a whiff of the pepper spray or whatever, but I have never found that to be necessary. If you get off the bike and walk a ways, which you would not or might not be able to do, it could lose interest; get back on and cycle away, and it will pick up where it left off, or just go home.

Try not to let a dog catch you by surprise in close quarters. That happened to me once, and I tipped over injuring my ankle. It was at night on a quiet, placid road. A very large dog came charging aggressively from out of the bushes near the side of the road. All of a sudden I heard this very loud barking and snarling, and saw a blur out of the corner of my eye. In an attempt to stop, dismount immediately, and get the bike between myself and the attacking dog, I forgot my feet were strapped into the pedals, and tried to get off on the right of the bike, I fell over and twisted my ankle. Well, at least I fell over away from the dog and not toward it. After all that the dog just stood there looking at me, and turned around and left. It was one of the larger breeds of dog, and I am sure it would not have harmed me, but it caught me completely unexpected, and I reacted unthinking with a start. There was no time to think through what to do. The subconscious mind told me I was under attack and needed to respond, and I did.

You might have dog problems in some areas at times, and no dog problems whatsoever in other places. In 1984 in winter along highway 90 in Florida free ranging dogs were all over the place, and I might add, were often seen dead along the roadside after having been slammed by motor vehicles. In 2007 I cycled 90, and there was not the first problem with the first dog; very different from 1984. In countrified areas dog owners may be more disposed to letting their dogs roam free. Some may be fenced in, but have some little tunnel dug out under the fence in some bush-covered corner. They actually seem to be smart enough to try and cover or hide their tunnels. Anyway, that is about all I can tell you. If you go into Eastern Europe, you may find canines of a very different stripe; very different from the friendly domesticated kind we are used to in the USA.

As for some of those dogs I encountered in eastern Europe, nothing short of a firearm would save you.  Some of those would run you to earth and kill you and eat you. I had never seen anything even remotely as vicious as those, and have not seen anything like it since. If there is any such thing as a homicidal, insane, psychotic, murderous, savage dog, those dogs were it. Thank God for chain link fences. They must have been raised to be that way.