Yellowstone NP - Bears
Replies: 49 - Last Post: May 25, 2013 11:21 AM Last Post By: geo_nerd
May 17, 2013 9:08 AM
30Wisconsin pissed off bear
From last night's nat'l news.
The bear went after the family dog, the husband intervened, was tackled from behind and mauled about the head, surviving reasonably well with stitches.
Wife hit the bear with unloaded shotgun and all beat a retreat inside the cabin.
The bear was persistent, going around the cabin for an hour, looking in and clawing at the doors.
Unusually agressive behavior. People only had birdshot shells. Sheriff came by and shot the bear. Wonder why this bear was so pissed off.
May 17, 2013 9:27 AM
31Bear was following this TT thread, got offended at being portrayed as a large, hapless, easily-intimidated rodent, decided to take it out on the first bipeds it met.
Seriously, folks: posters need to decide whether they'd rather look for useful, accurate knowledge here.... or defend their original positions against all contrary information. If searching for use value and accuracy, it's important to be able to admit being wrong from time to time. I do this about every three minutes, on average (but not in this case).
May 17, 2013 10:38 AM
32Wow, went away for a day and the thread went postal.
Back to the point of the thread - bear safety:
Grizzlies are more dangerous than black bears, true, but I've seen some mighty big black bears in the North Cascades of Washington, particularly in national parks where they don't get hunted (much). Jumped a big cinnamon colored black bear along Railroad Creek, North Cascades that easily topped 300 pounds. The ones I saw in Mt. Rainier not much smaller.
If really worried about hiking around in bear country, why go? Pick somewhere else - there's lots of places to go without bears. Some folks use bear bells hanging from their packs to maintain constant noise, but those are so irritating that I'd rather chance a bear encounter. While not a big fan of bear spray or packing guns, do so if that makes you comfortable.
In any case, hang your food, keep a clean camp, and make some noise when entering heavily brushed areas or along streams and rivers. If in heavy bear contry, additional measures can be taken like making a "cook" camp and a "sleep" camp ( where you do all your cooking, cleaning up and food storage at a location 100 yards or more from your sleeping area). The "sleep" camp located away from streams, game trails and upslope if possible. I've done that outside of Kodiak and Valdez Alaska where there were current reports of high brown bear activity, but those were extreme conditions.
I've been backpacking in bear country for forty years now, many times solo, and so far that's worked. But, I've never had to drop my pack and back away from an aggressive bear either, and I can imagine that would make a lasting impression. Every bear I've run into (probably thirty or more) has hightailed it away from me soon as they figured out what I was (well, couple just slowly walked away more irritated than afraid and not really too concerned about me).
May 17, 2013 10:56 AM
33I'm also concerned that folks like the OP will get the wrong idea from some of this debate. It is hard to discuss proper protocol and precautions with out strongly emphasizing the potential dangers, and amidst all the discussion we tend to de-emphasize the fact that the actual risk to a casual dayhiker is very, very low. The point certainly isn't to scare people out of experiencing the wilderness, only to provide a nuanced discussion of the real, but low, potential risks and some (hopefully) useful information on how to enjoy wildlife with respect rather than fear (or naive dismissiveness).
If I may sum up?
-Wildlife, including bears, moose, deer, elk, snakes and anything else you enounter, are just that - wild - and should be viewed with respect and some knowledge of responsible behavior and precaution.
-While any of them could attack a person, and some do from time to time, the actual risk to a person behaving responsibly is very low.
-There is some debate about the efficacy of deterents like bear spray. Many wildlife organizations and land management agencies support the use of chemical deterrents, others, including some on this board, do not. I consider this issue something the OP may want to investigate further.
-All that said, a chance to experience North America's charismatic megafauna is one of the greatest privaleges conveyed by our system of public lands. Don't miss out on this because of overzealous risk aversion. Be aware, alert, informed, prepared, and respectful - and enjoy yourself!
-LongIslandBob is very likely to be eaten by a bear.
Did I miss anything?
May 17, 2013 12:31 PM
34I don't know if this will help the OP, maybe. I've hiked and camped over 40 years, 90% in the west, Alaska and Canada, seen over 30 bears easily in the back country, majority without incident. I did have a rather large one sit on me one time, long story. Anyway in the last 2 years I've spent both summers, May-Nov camping, hiking and paddling in the west, mostly Montana and Wyoming. Know how many bears I saw, a big fat zero, nada, zilch.
Last Nov. I headed down to Florida to visit family, decided to stay at a couple of NF. I was camping in Ocala NF for about a week. The last night a black bear, bout 200lb kept roaming around my camp, heck I didn't even know FL had bears. I'd yell, bang pots, blast my music but he just kept coming around every 15-20 min, he wasn't aggressive but not shy either. Finally I went to bed, in the morning I got up to find he had ripped my 5gal water jug apart , guess he was upset that no food was out.
My point is if your going to spend anytime outdoors bears and wildlife are found everywhere not just Yellowstone, again follow the do's and don'ts and you will be fine. You will love that place.
May 17, 2013 1:23 PM
35Just an unverified quote for Cascade Bob, courtesy of Google:
"The largest black bear ever killed was in North Carolina in 1998. The bear weighed 880 pounds. This is a certified record for our state. Our coastal plain bears grow large and fat, due to abundance of soybean fields and corn grown in the area. Recent studies done by Duke University show males in the mountains average only around 370 pounds, while those in our coastal plain averaged 560 pounds."
A 300 lb black bear is actually on the small side.
May 17, 2013 2:59 PM
36Thanks markhart, didn't know the statistics on black bear weights. An 880 lb black bear, my, my. Must be that southern cookin'.
Another interesting thing; where you see grizzlies you won't see black bears. Grizz don't like competition from his smaller brothers and runs them off - will kill them if they catch them. Floated down theTatshenshini in the Yukon a few years ago and saw bears every day. Some days were black bear days, others grizzly (brown) bear days, but never the two together. Also saw a "ghost bear" on that trip (white phase grizzly - not albino, but white furred) and came across the carcass of a grizzly cub. At our first night's camp we spotted a wolf feeding on something on a nearby sandbar while two eagles patienty waited their turn on a nearby log. As we approached the wolf ran off, eagles flew away and we found the feed to be the grizzly cub. Figured an adult male killed it upstream and it floated downstream coming to rest on the sandbar, but who knows, maybe the wolf did him in.
May 17, 2013 4:04 PM
37Hmmm. I've been down the Alsek and seen only brown bears. In other places I've seen black and brown near each other--within a few miles--but never actually together. Not sure how to actually interpret this; for example, I've never seen wolves and coyotes together either, but I've seen them within a few miles. I can't say I've ever seen moose and caribou together, or lions and leopards, but again certainly within a few miles. Sometimes it's about niche habitats, nothing more--moose like willow thickets, while caribou like moss and lichen.
Anyway, I like them all and feel honored to hang around on their turf from time to time.
May 17, 2013 6:20 PM
38Thanks again guys! :)
Always great to get so many different opinions on the matter.
I am not one to judge whether some of the replies were wrong or right - but I get the general advice, I think :-)
We will only be going on 1 day hikes and won't be sleeping in tents.
We got a small campervan and plan on staying at the different campgrounds.
We headed to Yellowstone tomorrow, and none of us are as anxious now as we were a few days back.
Reading through this thread has at least helped me to get some perspective and realize that just taking it easy, probably is the best way to go! :)
A few of you mentioned the bears ability to get food from difficult places, such as chewing off ropes to drop down food.
As I mentioned before we're staying in a campervan and will therefore have all of our food in it.
Is it adviced to do anything in particular, besides locking the vehicle and closing all windows, to avoid an unwanted bear-visit near the car while we're gone?
Thanks again guys! :-)
May 17, 2013 8:19 PM
39As I already suggested: stop at the first visitor center and read up on bear safety. It's all there for you--and note that there's more to it than sleeping in the van with your food (and toothpaste).
Then read the notice boards at whatever campsites you stop in. And ask the rangers/campground hosts. And don't panic.
Just do NOT trust the advice you get on internet forums like this one. Seriously. Get some real advice from a source which has already sorted out the good from the bad information on your behalf; see my first sentence in this post.
May 17, 2013 8:38 PM
May 17, 2013 8:44 PM
41The only time I've seen blacks and grizzlies in the same area, the black was sneaking along the edge of a braided river trying not to be seen as it sneaked away.
There's a new documentary filmed in Katmai NP that has footage of a brown bear yanking a black sow out of her den then eating her two cubs like chicken wings, or so I was told. Haven't seen it yet.
May 18, 2013 4:18 AM
42We were told by locals in Montana to carry the bear spray and was shown how to use it. The grizzlies are huge. In Pennsylvania, I see Black bears when fishing and camping, they can be aggressive towards campers/tents with food, so you need to be careful. The main issues last time there was a cougar was stalking small pets/children on some trails, and father and daughter were hiking the girl was attacked.
When hiking in YSNP, take the bear safety course, the main thing is to make a lot of noise and whistle/sing and talk a lot so the bears hear you coming and split, or as not to startle them, and get them defensive.
May 18, 2013 7:29 AM
from the North American Bear Center
Written by a guy who has spent more than 40 years working closely with black bears.
Again, out west they have both black bears and grizzlies,
but I resent they things that have been said here.
It's possible to have two different opinions without disparaging the person who holds the other opinion.
May 19, 2013 7:59 AM
44Harmless as fluffy kittens?
Well, no... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fatal_bear_attacks_in_North_America
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