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Old 07-19-2009, 12:06 PM   #15
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He did not climb in...but

Full timing in Alaska brings its own set of challenges. This black bear walking between two units in our RV park is only one. One of our dogs alerted us to the fact that something was going on and a lucky shot with the camera and then a blast from our air horn and the incident was ended. It is not unusual to see them in the park or in close proximity, but that is a long way from having one trying to get inside your house or RV. It has happened here a time or two, but usually when someone has been cooking something that a bear just can't live without.

If you are in bear country, follow the rules. It not only will save you, but it will save the bears too.
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Old 07-19-2009, 12:36 PM   #16
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When we used to live in the mountains west of Denver, there were always reports of bears getting in houses. It seems to me it was usually through a screen door. Bears are very, very strong, but they are also opportunistic, so unless they are starving, or they are in a feeding frenzy in the Fall, they look for the easy way to get food. They have poor eyesight, so a screen door may be invisible to them, and certainly is no barrier.

In the Spring and Fall, when we have the back door open and there's only a screen between us and the bears, I try to remember to close it in the evening. I don't open the bottom window of a first floor double hung window either to make it very difficult for bears to climb in. Our windows are up pretty high, but on some houses even the top sash is too low. We live on a pretty dry mesa, but it's only a mile to some water, bears are curious animals, and will follow deer for a meal. There's lots of deer here. I've never seen a bear or a mountain lion around our house, but three miles away in a well watered canyon, I have seen them.

Camping in a watered canyon in the midst of a desert or just a very dry area, is probably camping amongst game trails. Prey come to the canyon for water and plant life to eat. Predators come for prey. You get between them, or along the trail the resident bear uses, you are going to be checked out. The local mountain lion is also checking you out, but you will hardly ever see him or her, and it would be highly unusual for a mountain lion to come to a trailer unless you leave lunch outside—i.e, your dog. Coyotes also like lunch. Mountain lions hunt from high places—overhangs, large boulders and trees—not from the ground around trailers. Bears do whatever they want to, but generally avoid humans unless we encourage them to visit.

I'm guessing Carol's visitor was just curious. There's plenty of food in mid summer for bears although a little snack would have been appreciated. But if this bear has been fed by humans, it has been trained to be unafraid and to rely on humans and that will eventually result in its being killed. If humans habitually leave garbage at a campground, or the garbage containers are not bear proof, bears will figure it out. Considering how many bears there are and how some people ask for it (I don't mean Carol), there are very few bear attacks on humans. More often they make a mess of personal property.

Gene
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Old 07-19-2009, 01:32 PM   #17
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Wow, what a story. Great job telling it. I am glad you and the dogs are OK. Thanks to your story my wife and I have added to our list of equipment to have in our trailer and to keep them near the bed. Pepper Spray, Air Horn, and Car Keys. Thanks for sharing your experience.
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Old 07-19-2009, 02:45 PM   #18
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WOW my heart is still racing after reading your story out loud to my husband. We were just complaining about the racoon prints on our truck windshield from our stay in the NC mountains. We have bears too but nothing like what you were describing. When we were in Homer, Alaska we were warned over and over about the bears and wore whistles (now I know how ineffective they would be.) So glad you are ok and didn't have heart failure through all this. I am also glad that your dogs didn't make physical contact with the grumpy guy. Look forward to more of your stories-but hope they aren't quite as exciting!
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Old 07-19-2009, 02:52 PM   #19
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Can you say 44 automag, glad no one was hurt.
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Old 07-19-2009, 04:11 PM   #20
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Another note to my story... My friend asked me why I didn't use my fire extinguisher as a last ditch effort when all else failed. I never even thought of that. I think it would have been a good idea, plus after emptying the contents, you could plunk the thing out onto the bear's head if he was still in the vicinity. I keep several in the trailer and there was one right on the kitchen floor. I have turned back many bears who were seeking my freeze dried goodies during my backpacking days using rocks and logs. Unfortunately, I had nothing in reach except a few plastic bottles of Coke, which I nearly threw, but at the last second realized that if the thing sprayed on contact, all that sweet liquid might have been considered an appetizer by the bear.
After reading all the replies and discussion of firearms, which I am very comfortable and competent with, the only one I currently own (which I keep at home) is a small caliber show handgun which would have been as effective as a mosquito bite and might have made him more irritable. If I decide to pull a trigger, I want to be sure I am the only one left breathing. I would love to have a nice hefty handgun again since I travel alone to some pretty wild places, but it is not financially feasible right now.
The other problem is that my trailer is parked as a guest at this large private ranch who is owned by a very enthusiastic animal activist. He would be very upset if I made a reduction in the animal population here and I have no idea how I would dispose of the evidence. Well, maybe with a tow strap hooked to the car...
One more eerie thing. When I got into bed that night and was drifting off to sleep, I remembered that for the first time ever, I had forgotten to shut the front door. I got back up in the dark, went out and closed it. The bear made his visit about a half an hour later. I shudder to think how easily he could have popped in through the screen door and trapped us in the back. At least I know how fast that whole back screen pops out, one swift kick and out we go...
PS It is a good idea to leave a pair of sandles on the floor next to your bed at night, it is no fun to have my experience of running outside in the dark in your bare feet over all those sharp twigs and oak leaves. Believe me, there was no time to tie on a pair of shoes.
Thanks for all your replies, it is great having more shoulders to lean on....
Carol
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Old 07-19-2009, 06:04 PM   #21
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Now listen to this... A relative of the owner of the ranch who lives nearby is passing around the story that the reason the bear came and wanted to climb into my trailer is because he was after my dogs as his next meal. This doesn't sound right to me, but apparently others are believing it and saying maybe I shouldn't bring my dogs up there when I camp in the trailer. All this sounds backasswards to me as I think they played a good part in chasing the bear away now that I know he ran off in the opposite direction from their approach, actually towards the direction my friend's truck was coming. Plus they were the ones that woke me up and let me know we had a visitor. There has been no report from anyone up there of a bear going after any dogs.
I personally think the bear had previous experience of getting food from a trailer since there is a huge camping area at a very nearby lake with hundreds of trailers visiting all year long. Especially due to his large size, one look at him and I'll bet most people wouldn't have held out as long as I did defending my trailer.
Help me out on this, as I really don't want popular opinion here getting so strong on this that I don't get to bring my companions with me.
Or tell me if I am wrong.....
Carol
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Old 07-19-2009, 06:37 PM   #22
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i'm sure you are 100% right about the bear's previous experience getting food from a trailer. aren't you a little nervous to go back there though?
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Old 07-19-2009, 07:22 PM   #23
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I am going to wait a week or two, then check out the trailer to see if he has made any further attempts to make an entrance while I am not there. If I see no evidence of that and the trailer is still in one piece; I will get a new screen made, load up at the hardware store with a giant sized pepper spray or two, (that I will try out as soon as I get home) put a new battery in the remote for the car alarm, park the car at the side of the trailer by the front door instead of up front so that I will be in range to activate the alarm, put the marine horn cannister next to my bed, a fire extinguisher under my pillow, my cell phone turned on and placed alongside the car keys in direct sight across from my bed, keep the dog collars on them all the time and their leashes on a hook by the door right next to a large stick, sandles under the bed, consider wearing pajamas, keep the windows mostly closed, plenty of tossable ammunition nearby, make sure a friend is going to be camping nearby the same night and let them know I am up there and to keep their cell phone next to them at night and THEN I will go back up there and bring my shaggy best friends with me....
Carol
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Old 07-19-2009, 08:08 PM   #24
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Sounds like you've got good planning going!

I don't think the bear was looking for a dog meal. Probably just curious, or hungry for something he smelled. After all, in many places, bear hunters use dogs to hunt bears (black bears, anyway) and the dogs chase the bear and if all goes well, tree the bear. Of course, sometimes things don't go well and the bear turns and fights and often in such circumstances, the dogs don't come out of the engagement. But I've never heard of bears deliberately "hunting" dogs. Mountain lions, yes. Wolves, yes. So I don't think your ranch owner's relatives have got this one right.
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Old 07-19-2009, 09:18 PM   #25
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I feel like my dogs are my best protection and no one can change my mind about that.
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Old 07-19-2009, 09:19 PM   #26
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Dogs and Bears

Dogs are a great deterrent to most bears. The bears are not scared of the dogs, but they are pretty shy and do not want to have a confrontation either. Here in Alaska, we usually hike with our dogs for that very reason. A well behaved and barking dog has a great effect on most bears. Last season a friend turned a corner and was face to face with a Black Bear with cubs. The dog was leashed, barked one time and the bears slowly turned off the trail and retreated into the woods.

A dog that cannot be restrained or is ill-mannered is more of a hazard than a help, especially if the dog wants to start something. Having to try and figure out how to get your dog back after he takes off after a retreating bear is a real problem, because the bear will eventually turn and destroy the dog.

I seriously doubt that the bear was looking to make a dog a meal. That is way more trouble than most bears will go to. They are very opportunistic about food left out or poorly stored. I have never heard of a bear attacking a dog for a meal. I have heard of bears killing dogs in self defense. I think that I will go along with the curious bear or the bear that has been taught that humans have food.
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Old 07-20-2009, 06:24 AM   #27
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Ya'll are much braver than we.
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Old 07-20-2009, 07:12 AM   #28
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sounds like you will be prepared!

I think if the bear had wanted to make a meal of your dogs, he would have, when the one chased after him. But the fact that barking dogs didn't deter him from trying to get into your trailer suggests he got a pretty good reward the last time he climbed into one!!

The usual argument I hear about dogs and bears applies to a different situation totally - dogs roaming on a camping trip can provoke a bear and then they run back to camp, bringing the bear with them. Your dogs didn't do that, they were just minding their own business.

Good luck with the situation and be careful!!
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