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post #1 of (permalink) Old 05-27-2002, 02:51 PM Thread Starter
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Default Bearproofing

I'm hoping to start a thread where we can discuss bears and campsites, best practices from experience, etc.

I was talking to a colleague today about backpacking and the thoughts around bearproofing. Once comment he had is that he never has his pack near his tent. He actually hoists it up a tree along with the food, etc. Is that extreme or a normal practice? I was always under the impression that things that were food or smelled like food were the targets - i.e. food, stove, fuel, soaps, sunscreen, insect repellent, etc.

I've got several books on bears and will be reading those a little more closely. It will be interesting to hear others' thoughts on this topic.





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post #2 of (permalink) Old 05-27-2002, 03:04 PM
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Good question, Jim - I'm looking forward to seeing the feedback on this topic...
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 05-27-2002, 03:41 PM
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I think that pulling a whole pack into a tree may be a little too extreme. That is only a practice which you could do below the treeline anyways. I often use my pack as a pillow and I still keep things I might need inside it and can't bother to either completely emptying it every night or running to lower it all the time. I'll often hoist dirty clothing and my washup stuff up with the food but never the whole pack. I keep anything which is likely to be aromatic in sealed plastic bags and then into stuff sacks before hanging it.

Above the treeline, I have either slung stuff off of cliffs or used a bear cache/cannister. A bear cannister is great if you can live with the extra bulk and weight. To find the cannister at night (especially if a bear has played soccer with it), I have decorated it with stickers and reflective tape.

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post #4 of (permalink) Old 05-28-2002, 04:53 AM Thread Starter
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This is an interesting link that I was sent. It is the site of the World Society for the Protection of Animals. They have a nice quick bear facts page.

http://www.wspa.ca/bearsafe/bearsafe3.html#campsite





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post #5 of (permalink) Old 05-28-2002, 12:04 PM
 
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I seal all my food in thick freezer bags including toothpaste and sun tan lotion to limit the amount of smell in and around my pack, and only hang my food and sundries.
Everyone should have some kind of personal knowledge of bear activity on any given trail, through contacting the park office or simply observing sign of bears such as fresh scat, and make your decision partly based on that before going.
I would only hang my pack if I felt there was a significant chance of a bear in the immediate area.
Out of curiosity....what plan does everyone have for a bear attacking their tent.......here is mine.
I have bear spray and a big knife at my bed side along with a miniature air horn and a very bright light.
From what I've read...you should be prepared to slice open the middle of your tent for a quick escape, blind it with a bright light and pepper spray it, and possibly use a air horn for further distraction if practical.
I'd be interested to hear other opinions on this, as NO PLAN is a bad plan as far as I'm concerned !

Dave



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post #6 of (permalink) Old 05-28-2002, 01:44 PM
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I've been keeping my pack in my tent, by my side, for easy access. In there I've got a sharp hatchet (which I'd really rather not use) and my trekking poles and I always keep my bear spray and light by my side.

I've heard that you should remain calm and try talking calmly - and more often than not that's enough to get your unwelcome visitor moving. I think a trekking pole and the spray would be my first line of defense though.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 05-28-2002, 03:00 PM
 
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I used to hoist my pack when I first started but now I just hoist my food bag and stove, pots etc. It was more convinient to hoist my pack but one rainstorm cured me of that<img src=icon_smile_sad.gif border=0 align=middle>
I think as long as you are careful (not paranoid) it shouldn't be a problem. I have read that bears are attracted to toothpaste so brushing your teeth away from the tent is an advised practice.

Also some bears are curious so if you pitch your tent out in the open a bear will notice a difference in the landscape and come to check you out<img src=icon_smile_dead.gif border=0 align=middle> so it is advised to pitch it near rock outcrops or trees if possible.
As for defense in a tent I would like to think that I would have the prescense of mind to use a knife or flashlight but a bear coming through your tent would be a predatory attack and you would be in a fight for your life after a rude awakening<img src=icon_smile_shock.gif border=0 align=middle>scary thought!!!

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post #8 of (permalink) Old 05-28-2002, 07:46 PM
 
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I do the same as Kodiak. Ranger has some good points too. I have spent more time in the bush than most people. I have seen many bears and a few cougars in the wild. I have only been chased once, by a sow with cubs. I keep a super clean camp and keep all my garbage in a ziploc bag in my food bag (I also will pickup other peoples garbage and seal it in a ziploc bag). I only pack low odour foods (no bacon or fish). The oils from these foods get into our clothes and the bears can smell it. Even if you spill food on your clothes they should be hung with your food bag.

As far as an attack in the tent is concerned, you need a pretty big knife to do any damage to a bear. A good whack on the snout with a short stick might get his attention. But in reality what would we do with a 300lb bear sitting on our chest? The light and pepper spray is a good plan, if you can get to the bear before he gets a hold of you.

The other thing to think of with all this bear talk is that the bear does not want to eat people he only wants to steal our food. He might put up a fight to get it but it is not like he is defending his kill. It is important to keep a clean camp so the hikers that come after you are not targets for an easy meal.

Barry
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 05-28-2002, 08:26 PM
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I have learned so much from the book called Mark of the Grizzly by Scott McMillion it is beyond words.

The book is about 18 Grizzly attacks. The attacks are explained by the author,experts, and in some cases the surviving victim. In most of the cases there was the human factor in what went wrong. The human factor was not always the victim, i.e. a habituated bear. Habituated being people feeding bears, or leaving a messy camp with easy food. Bears come to associate people with food, and more importantly
lose their fear of people.

One account two armed men were not fast enough to defend themselves against an attack. Bears are faster than race horses.

Another account, two woman fought a Grizzly, and won.

One thing that was mentioned many times is that more people die in North America each year by bee stings than from bear attacks.

One man stood his ground to a charging Grizzly, the bear stopped 10 feet short, and turned away.

Never approach dead game, deer, moose, it could be someone's meal.

The Stein area, I hear, has a population of about 8 Grizzlies. Can anyone confirm this. The Squamish area has 800-900 Black bears.

I use a triangle set up for camp. Kitchen, down wind 200-300 feet. Food in a tree 200-300 feet away from my tent, at the other point. I also have a knife in my tent to make a quick escape.

I have yet to buy pepper spray. I hear, from a MEC Employee, its biodegradable, and bears like the smell. Hmmmm

The book mentions that there are two types of spray. One that makes a large cloud in front of you, and one that shoots a stream into the bears eyes. Attacks are so terribly fast that aiming is very difficult. The cloud spray acts as a shield, and no aiming is needed.

I've seen so many nice lakes while out hiking, and have recently thought of bringing a fishing rod. But what of the fish smell. Would I look and smell like a large land trout to a bear? Any thoughts on this?

The best defence is never to offend

Foxtrots



Edited by - Foxtrots on 05/28/2002 8:46:28 PM
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 05-28-2002, 10:18 PM
 
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I know for a fact that a old Boar Grizzly lives in the area of Blowdown Pass and Gott Peak in the Stein.
Of interest...the crews that did all the trail work in the Stein last year had "NO BEAR PROBLEMS" told to me by the guy in charge.
8 Grizzly's in the Stein is likely very possible, there use to be a huge number there before they were over hunted in the earlier day's.
A great read on bear attacks are the books by "James Gary Shelton" who describes very different approaches in responding to bear encounters, which is mainly to know the difference between a Grizzly and a Black bear, and secondly to decide if attacked whether it's a predatory attack or a defensive attack ?
Black Bears are becoming increasingly predatory in B.C. according to his book, and if attacked as such you better have a plan.
As for pepper spray, the stuff you really want is not legal in Canada. In the U.S. they sell a much more powerful concentration of pepper spray.
Another tip in his book..... every additional canister of pepper spray in your group will increase your chances of surviving a bear attack another 10% percent, from 75% with one canister.

Dave


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