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post #1 of (permalink) Old 07-31-2002, 09:19 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2002
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Default Bear question

All other things being equal if you were camping out in the forest do you think a night-time campfire would more likely attract bears or keep them away?

Buzz is offline  
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 07-31-2002, 09:53 PM
Headed for the Mountains
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
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I really don't know but here is my best guess.

If the bear is a habituated bear, meaning that it associates humans with food, then a campfire may signal the presence of people and of course food.

On the other hand, if the bear is not habituated, perhaps the smell of smoke would trigger instincts to get away....????

Hmmmm anyone know the answer here??


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post #3 of (permalink) Old 07-31-2002, 11:38 PM
Join Date: Jun 2002
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Hmmm.. from what I've heard, it seems all animals stay away from all kinds of fires, so they try to run away. But then again, maybe if there is the smell of food at all near the campfire, the bear might still be attracted to come. I'm not sure, since the only book I've read on bears so far is "Backcountry Bear Basics" and I don't remember if they said anything in there about that.

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post #4 of (permalink) Old 08-01-2002, 12:00 AM
Join Date: Apr 2002
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What do you mean exactly....... "camping in forest" backpacking in the backcountry ?, or camping in some sort of B.C Park campsite ?
If you camp in a area not frequented by humans then a fire would not be an issue as long as the food and odours are properly contained away from the sleeping area.
Bears are solitary animals, only the bears that are habituated to humans and garbage would be a concern, that's why it all depends on where you are setting up.
Either way bears are more scared of us then we are of them, far to many people are bear paranoid to a fault.
Hey even I'm overly prepared when I go into the backcountry to encounter bears, but I call that being prepared and a piece of mind not "paranoid"
Just be smart about storing your food, and don't be worrying about fires.......and enjoy the wilderness

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post #5 of (permalink) Old 08-01-2002, 12:07 AM
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I'm no expert, but once when I lived in Jasper some freinds and I were into a multiple day trip in the Pobokton Pass area. We'd been doing day trips out off waterfall camp site and on the way back from Jonas shoulder we saw a fairly good sized grizzly. Anyhow we had our last meal and campfire and went to bed. I woke about two am. and heard shuffling by the tent and just when I thought my heart couldn't race any faster, I was "bumped" three times by what I've always beleived was that same bear. I think he just hung out in the bush until our fire died then came in to check for easy eats. As it was said, if the bear is habituated, they may associate fire,people with food. Then again they are fairly curious animals.

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post #6 of (permalink) Old 08-01-2002, 12:26 AM
Join Date: Apr 2002
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I had the same thing happen to me in the Stein Valley when a bear was shuffling around our tent, my heart almost jumped out of my body....while the wife slept.
Bottom line bears are curious especially in a area frequented by humans, just try keep the fresh fish caught earlier in the day away from the tent <img src=icon_smile_wink.gif border=0 align=middle>

Good Night<img src=icon_smile_sleepy.gif border=0 align=middle>

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post #7 of (permalink) Old 08-01-2002, 06:58 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2002
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Yes I am talking about backpacking in the backcountry. Some friends & I are thinking of doing an over-nighter soon. I know bears have an excellent sense of smell. I just wondered if a fire would be some "super-signal" that they could smell from even farther away than normal & may bring unwanted attention. Thanks for the answers.

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post #8 of (permalink) Old 09-06-2002, 01:18 PM
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 52

It's a little late but here are my thoughts on the matter. I agree that if a bear is habituated to fire=food it will attract them, but if they have this equation in there head they probably learned first that campsite=food, people=food, garbage=food. So a fire wouldn't necessarily attract a habituated bear, it would probably come to the campsite anyway.
I fight fires in northern Alberta and bears don't seem to be as afraid of fire as most animals, often they will be patrolling a big fires edge, if the fire isn't active, that has pushed them out of their territory while other animals have been long gone. It doesn't take them long to figure out that the fire camps and fire fighters equal food either.

I would say a fire would do more good than anything else because if you burn alot of your garbage there will be less ordours around the camp. A habituated bear in the area will probably stop by the campsite on his territorial travels but probably just walk through if the site is clean and odor free.

Basically I think fires have little to do with attracting or detering bears.It sure took me a long time to get that out.<img src=icon_smile_big.gif border=0 align=middle>

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post #9 of (permalink) Old 09-06-2002, 01:43 PM
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 1,360

yes, and no. Bears are attracted to odors. Bears that are used to campers will likely be attracted to a fire since it means food. Bears that are less habituated might stay away. This issue is addressed in Bear Basics.

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