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Old 03-29-2012, 02:20 PM   #15
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They say in Yellowstone to wear bells and carry a can of bear spray... In order to determine if a bear is in the area, you should know how to recognize bear feces.. it smells like pepper and has little bells in it....

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Old 03-29-2012, 03:25 PM   #16
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Our second camping trip in the AS was to the Great Smokey Mountains. At check-in the host cautioned that a bear cub had been spotted inside the campground on regular basis over the last several weeks. On the third morning we talked with a camper who had spotted the cub the night before. During the trip we rode bicycles on the Cades Cove Loop road. The photo below is of the mama bear and one of her three cubs.
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Remember its not the destination, but rather the journey.... its what's in the middle that matters the most!
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Old 03-29-2012, 09:52 PM   #17
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Bear Scat should be a clue...

When hiking the forest trails here in the Western USA, it is not a bad idea to know what bear scat looks like. Scat is a replacement word for other words with the same meaning, but considered vulgar... like crap or turd. But, to go on.

Bears mark their territory and trails. We counted 19 "piles of scat" on one trail on a Forest trail we hiked daily on the Colorado Front Range one year. This was on the trail. Obviously a bear was not happy with us and our two blue heelers using "his" trail. Scat of a bear looks like a pudding with, here at least, many crushed acorns from the scrub oak that is so common at 6,500 to, lets say 8,500 feet elevation in the Fall. The bigger the scat, I must judge it from a "larger bear". We do not have Grizz this far south, so it is brown/black/auburn colored bears here.

The big joke out west is, as Eric described in an earlier message and I have a slight variation, that is suppose to be funny, so remember I am making light of hiking in the back country with Bear, Bears or Grizz...

Do you know the difference between Black Bear scat and Grizzly Bear scat?

Well... black bear scat looks like pudding with many crushed shells of acorns mixed within. Sometimes wild plum seeds, when in season and a number of seeds from other local fruits that grow on bushes in their habitat. Huckleberry, blue berry and other berries are also favorites.

Grizzly Bear is much like the Black Bear scat, but also contains whistles and bells. That is the defining difference in our scat course... keep your eyes to the ground and the softer the scat, the closer the bear. The last time I was in close proximity to a black bear, I recall a smell that I just cannot describe. So if you also smell something out of the ordinary, just think bear and be careful.
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Old 03-29-2012, 10:14 PM   #18
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I can tell what fruit is in season around here, purple bear poop means plums, white bear poop means apples. Usually it can look a lot like calf poop. It's a safer year if we have no apples. The back yard gets to looking like a calf pen at times in the fall. They like cat food as much as the raccoons and skunks, only have a little damage to the back porch wall where a bear came in for the cat food.
As much as I like bacon, I would not reccomend anyone taking bacon camping in bear country, I don't know how you would keep the bears from getting to it.
The Silver Dragon came with a bear claw mark in the refrig door, they learned to open the trailer door up at Truckee where I bought the trailer. So far I've had no trouble in the trailer with no food in it and have dishes of PineSol out in the trailer.
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Old 03-29-2012, 10:18 PM   #19
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Why is it always about guns on this forum? Guns... get a big one and all your problems are solved.

Being bear aware is about reducing attractants... unless you are back-country camping, there isn't a lot you can do in a campground other than cleaning up your outside garbage.

If you are in a wilderness setting known for bears, I'd cook away from the RV, store your food in bear cache containers, and change into fresh cloths after cooking.

I'm not a believer in firearms for close-encounters with animals. Bear spray can be much more effective, is lighter, and doesn't make you look like Rambo when other people are trying to enjoy the day without your bear-paranoia scaring the crap out of everyone.

Don't pack your pistol when you are coming to Canada or transiting to Alaska... they aren't allowed.

Anyway... I live in a wilderness town where the summer fun is bear watching. 4 black bears and 3 grizzlies (mom & 2 cubs) called town home last year. 2 of the black bears were responsive to deterrents and kept their respect for people, 2 had to be destroyed because some people thought keeping chickens was more important than reducing attractants.

I was very happy that the grizzlies stayed on the edge of town... as shooting a mom & 2 cubs would be bad...
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Old 03-30-2012, 10:43 AM   #20
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all joking aside, most bears are NOT to be feared. only if baby bear is involved. Ive had quite a few bear encounters of the close kind, I have never had to use bear spray or a gun. They are to be respected however, and their personal space avoided. I used to watch an old sow in durango go shopping in my dumpster on Highway 160. She would dive in, get something tasty, and neatly place it next to the dumpster and then dive in again. Whenever a car came by she would pop her head out and watch, then go back to swimming in the garbage. One time i did not know she was there and i went down to the dumpster.. I am not sure who was more startled. When i was done she came back to inspect the offerings. She would then pack up her treasures and make for the hills.

The key is knowing you are in THEIR territory and respecting their limits. Unlike people bears are sensible animals. They will behave in predictable ways and with better manners than many humans. Many people forget this basic fact and get into trouble. I.E. People gored by Bison when trying to get a picture with them...

I would like to agree with Friday's post but for a different reason. Firearms are a tool, and may have appropriate application in a wild animal encounter. However, I recommend bear spray because most people are not familiar enough with firearms to effectively use them in a life threatening situation. Pistols are rarely powerful enough and few people are skilled enough for them to be useful. Bear Spray does not need to be accurate to deter. It also works on people! A responsible gun owner will never scare people by being a bear-paranoid "rambo". We can leave that to people with mullets and confederate flags whos sister is also their mother... lol

Also, if going to canada, remember to check your vehicles for anything else that would cause a bored border guard to check your vehicle. And on teh way back dont forget the whiskey and to smuggle a good toilet into the US! lol
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Old 03-30-2012, 11:01 AM   #21
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Ditto on the good toilet

And a good shower head. Sal.
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Old 03-30-2012, 12:16 PM   #22
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Like people, bears are opportunistic, look for an easy meal and don't care what they eat. You are safer in a metal vehicle, but bears are far stronger than we are and can rip the door off a car or the side out of a trailer. It is important not to piss them off. That is the best way to get attacked. They much prefer the easy meal. They don't like a fight.

There was a photo of an Airstream posted years ago that showed a big piece of the trailer ripped off, but a cabinet was behind it and the bear gave up. Keep food and things that smell good to a bear (scented soaps and shampoo, for ex.) inside a metal vehicle or a bear box. Ventilate the trailer often. In a campground you can be somewhat assured someone else will be sloppy and may attract a hungry bear; hope they are not parked near you. The smells from a campground are very enticing to a bear and they can't easily distinguish one camper from another as the source. They are smart enough to know a tent is a lot easier to investigate, so have your relatives you really don't like stay in the tent. Give them some candy in case they get hungry during the night and help them with a new will.

When people spot bears in places like Yellowstone or Alaska, they stop and get out of their cars. I have seen this even when it is a momma bear and cubs 30 or 40' away. Momma bear can cover that distance in seconds. Always stand behind a few other (juicy) tourists and plot the escape route to your truck or car if the bear gets agitated.

Don't be less cautious with black bears than brown (grizzlies). They are all potentially dangerous. Grizzlies are really big and can do a lot of damage very fast, but black bears can do lots of damage almost as fast and are bigger than most of us.

In Colorado, bears invade houses often enough to be noted. They almost always come through a screen door. A screen door means nothing to a bear when they smell food—with their poor eyesight, they may not even see it. I prefer to open double hung windows for ventilation (the upper sash only). Bears can smell food miles away—they have better noses than even dogs. A subdivision in the forest or a campground can be party time for bears, but be careful, follow the rules (they usually make sense) and the likelihood of being attacked is very, very small. Some campground with a history of bears only allow hardsided campers, not tents or popups.

We do not leave windows open in the trailer at night or when we are away. We rely on the fans for ventilation. I prefer not to leave the door open, but during the day, it is pretty safe.

We have never met a bear on a trail, but I am sure they saw us and were uninterested. Mountain lions surely see people and we never see them, and they are no fun either.

The most dangerous times for bear attacks are spring and fall. In the spring they are hungry after a winter without food, and in the fall, they are feeding voraciously for winter.

A small black bear lives in a canyon several miles away and we've never heard of any problems. There are houses in the area. The deer probably are a prime source of meat, but mostly they eat small animals and vegetation. We have seen scat on our property (kind of looks human to me, but more of it), but never the bear. Bears generally keep to themselves. They don't like being around other bears or us either. There is usually plenty of food, so the risk of a fight with us isn't usually worth it. The pictures you see of a group of bears in a river during salmon season or at a dumpster are hardly typical of bear behavior. They will take some chances (being around other bears) for easy food, but we aren't easy food to most of them.

You'll probably see a bear before an attack and have some time to respond. They can be intimidated. They rely on intimidation when they meet other bears and mostly don't want a fight. They may charge (more than once) and stop trying to scare you off. If you don't scare, they hopefully will give up. It is very hard not to run in that situation, but they can run faster and longer than you can. They are scared too, so you have to take advantage of that. A mountain lion will wait for prey from a high place—often a big boulder—and jump the prey. They take no chances and if you meet one on the trail, do not run, stand your ground and try to look big to them. They do not like to attack without stealth, so if you see one, that is far, far better than one landing on you. To a mountain lion, running triggers the attack response—you become a deer or a mouse in their minds. With either one, slowly backing off is a good idea. Bear spray helps as it makes the idea of attack seem less desirable and intimidates. Bear spray deteriorates with time, so you have to replace it from time to time.

If confronted by a dangerous animal, I suspect most people are so nervous as to forget everything they have learned and have a tough time aiming any weapon. Bad aim with a gun can cause damage to someone else or only anger the bear. Bear spray can't kill anyone, but can deter a bear and a bad shot still can be effective when you keep your thumb down on the button and spray all around where the bear is.

You have to fight a mountain lion and make it figure "this isn't worth it". People often try to fight off bears and sometimes that works.

We had a grizzly with 2 cubs cross in front of us in the Northwest Territories several years ago. We stopped and they showed no interest in us. They were eating plants near the road. They were about 30' from the 4Runner and I cautiously opened the door to take photos. I was nervous, but I didn't get much out of my seat, got off a few shots and closed the door, quietly. They were completely unconcerned. It was as if we weren't there. Another vehicle came along, and we left figuring that was enough of an intrusion into their lives. But you can't know what will spook an animal (or a human). Two vehicles increased the risk of an attack, so it was time to go—best for us and best for the bears. In a place like Yellowstone or Denali, animals become acclimated to us and our vehicles, so they are less scared of us. We saw wolves walking calmly down the road between the tourist busses one time. This is not normal wolf behavior. Wolves hardly ever attack a human. For large meat, they attack herds in groups and enjoy the chase. They understand the actions of herd animals, but humans are strange and do weird things. Wolves are predators and so are we. They rarely attack predators. It isn't worth the unexpected behavior and a fight. They know their strength is in pack hunting, not an individual wolf. If a wolf pack sees a bunch of people, they have no interest in challenging our pack—we are too much like them and they know it. We are also funny looking standing on two legs, all having different coats (we call them clothes) and strange things (like cameras) in our upper paws.

Wild places are extraordinary places to visit. It is pretty normal to be fearful of big predators because we have little experience with them. Far more predators will see you (or smell you) than you will ever see or smell (our noses are pitiful compared to theirs). Few want to tangle with us. Learn what to do and you will be fine. I've logged many miles in the wilderness on my feet and never felt I was in danger. Having a dog helps where it is permitted if you can control the dog. A crazed dog is no help and may cause more problems. Enjoy the wilderness.

I wonder what the tinkling of bear bells means to a bear? I suspect not much if they even hear it. They may cause indigestion. Singing and talking loud may be better. A walking stick provides some defense along with spray. I know my singing would scare off any human. Also, pour grizzly urine over you. They will smell that and keep a distance.

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Old 03-30-2012, 04:14 PM   #23
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To all i have enjoyed reading your posts. They have been very informative.
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Old 03-30-2012, 08:17 PM   #24
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If you get an opportunity to observe bears (safely) in their own habitat - then you can get to see some fascinating behaviour. We were able to view (under the watchful eye of a USFS Researcher) two bear "families" at a fish weir during the salmon run many time during our 3-day stay at Haines, Alaska last year.

Quite a treat.

Here are just a sample of the hundreds of pictures we were able to get:

- Mama having a "moment" with 1 of her 2 youngsters.

- Who doesn't like to take the time to examine a pretty rock?

- What the fuss was all about - the salmon run .....

- our trusty Researcher - shooing bears off the weir - and making sure rubberneckers keep their distance ......

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Old 03-30-2012, 08:37 PM   #25
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On a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters, we were paddling and fishing. Camped on an island with a designated campsite and bear boxes. I was cooking dinner, burgers and beans, heard noise down by the canoes. The noise stopped and up through the brush came a bear. I picked up a pot and a spoon and beat the hell out of it and he turned and ran off. We made sure we didn't have any food in the tents, bathed in the lake and stored the food in the bear box. The only thing I left out was a nalgene bottle with Stoly vodka in it. I heard huffing around two in the morning, peeked out of the tent and there was our bear with the plastic bottle in hand, he (she?) bit into it, got a mouthful of Stoly, let out a painful arrrgh, dived into the lake and swam off. I got up and watched under the full moon a bear swimming so fast I could have wakeboarded behind him. I still have the nalgene bottle, its a great show and tell item!
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Old 03-31-2012, 09:08 AM   #26
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A friend of ours was in the Boundary Waters some years ago and was woken up in the middle of the night by his new wife. She said there was a bear outside and he didn't believe it. But, to humor her, he went outside and there was a bear. Our friend is about the size of a linebacker, but not as big as the bear. In a valliant effort to protect his wife, he started throwing things and yelling at the bear—I think it was about 10' away. The bear had discovered some shampoo and found it tasty. The bear was not impressed by all the commotion and went about his business of inspecting everything outside the tent despite the lunatic yelling at him.

After a while the bear got tired on the insane human and went away. Not much sleep was had the rest of the night. At dawn, the happy honeymooners got everything in the canoe and started paddling. They looked back after a while and there was the bear, swimming after them. They crossed a lake, portaged and the bear was somewhere back there. They just knew it. Another lake, the bear swimming behind. After a while, the bear got tired of the slow speed chase and disappeared.

The rest of the trip was full of anxiety, but they survived (thought the marriage didn't). A year or so later, they were camping in Colorado and were visited by a bear. It didn't hang around, but ever since my friend has trouble getting people to camp with him because he attracts bears.

We plan to go to a CG with him and his latest (and best) wife. We will be safely in our Airstream. I think they will have a tent, so we will be safe.

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Old 03-31-2012, 12:19 PM   #27

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Thumbs up Bares what bares?

What really goes on in the forest at night. [VIDEO]

AF #1

"Sticks & stones can break your bones...and hail will dent your Airstream"

So when is this..."old enough to know better" supposed to kick in?
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Old 03-31-2012, 12:35 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by ROBERT CROSS View Post
So does that mean if attacked by a bear, scratch his back and he'll be happy? Of course, he'll come back every night.


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