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bear harassment

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Re: bear harassment

Postby Baffman » Mon Dec 13, 2010 5:33 am

I saw 4 last fall on a 9 day trip. 2 in Paradise Valley, one on the way up to Upper Tent Meadow on the Copper Crk, Trail and one bold, larger male at State Lakes. I know without a doubt that I scared off another by being noisy through a stretch of berry laden bushes. There was scat everywhere and many blind corners.



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Re: bear harassment

Postby gdurkee » Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:04 pm

Mark:

That was a terrific reminiscence. I started as a ranger in LYV in '73 after two years in Yosemite Valley. Great times and Gary Tanaka brings back even more memories. Little remembered is the woman from Merced (?) who challenged the NPS on its poor bear management program -- which consisted of just shooting problem bears and dumping them over the side of the road up to Crane Flat. Her name was Ursula Fozzi. How can yo beat that for a protagonist against the squeaky clean NPS image of the day??

Thanks!

While I haven't been doing so well finding bears I have been encountering more bare naked ladys than in the past. This year at Evelyn. Two years in a row now. No photo this year, Tehipte Tom, still not enough telephoto!

Mike


Dude: where have you been hiking? Not since the 70s has there been much exposed flesh -- male or female. Some years ago, I contacted (hmmm, maybe not the word I want) a bunch of skinny dippers in Dusy Basin. They later came by the station and I didn't recognize them. I was able to use the line "sorry, I didn't recognize you with your clothes on" to one of the women.

There exists, though, a photo of a male & female ranger (unnamed) who had swum across to an island at Rae Lakes but found that it was incredibly cold and they barely (so to speak) made it. No way to swim back. What to do? Swam via a submerged boulder to the other shore but about 1/2 mile from their clothes. Ooooops. Good thing rangers carry their poise and dignity in their very core. ("Hi. Where you headed. Can I see your wilderness permit?").

Another adventure on the frontier, but a digression from bear stories... .

George
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Re: bear harassment

Postby lambertiana » Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:53 pm

If we are talking about "bare" encounters, in recent years I have had more of those than bear encounters in the back country. It started with a girl sunning herself next to Bear Creek as we were going by with some scouts, I guess the name of the creek was fitting. In the last couple years I have seen, on separate occasions, a guy and a girl skinny dipping at Franklin Lake. And in 2008 I saw a group of four women skinny dipping at the higher lake next to the trail in Dusy Basin just below Bishop Pass.
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Re: bear harassment

Postby rlown » Thu Dec 16, 2010 9:07 pm

Ok.. so enough drooling about "bare" encounters. I noticed that only the males were chiming in on that discussion, which, well... enough said. fun though..

Back to Bears.. To be really clear, black bear with 4 legs. :D
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Re: bear harassment

Postby Baffman » Thu Dec 16, 2010 10:25 pm

I just have to comment on rlown's comment of "If you're near a LOT of people, and you're careless, you might see a bear."

I hike alone. I hike quiet and very alert. I am not careless. I also see bears. Maybe it's because I look for them or maybe I get lucky. I've seen them near a LOT of people, but also in secluded areas while alone.
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Re: bear harassment

Postby rlown » Thu Dec 16, 2010 10:35 pm

Baffman wrote:I just have to comment on rlown's comment of "If you're near a LOT of people, and you're careless, you might see a bear."

I hike alone. I hike quiet and very alert. I am not careless. I also see bears. Maybe it's because I look for them or maybe I get lucky. I've seen them near a LOT of people, but also in secluded areas while alone.


Agreed. I've seen bear when i've surprised them and even up near Hanging Basket, which would attribute to the piles of scat with candy wrappers mixed in.

a LOT of people would be the HSC in that case.

I too have seen them way in the backcountry, but more skittish than near a mass of humans. We surprised one in 2007 way out of Glen Aulin, and it didn't stick around.. Fastest Bear I ever saw. Couldn't get a pic it was so fast.

My basic question is do they harass you anymore since we went to cans? Or in the last year or so..
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Re: bear harassment

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Sat Dec 18, 2010 6:29 pm

Geez, this topic...again. This will be my one and only comment. I have been backpacking and cross-country mountaineering for a looong time. I have had many many bear encounters, and I have never lost my food to bears, and I never will.
In my reckoning there are only two kinds of black bears in the Sierra:
1) Habituated Bears: Usually found it places well impacted by humans, usually in campgrounds or a days march from a trail-head that remains under 8000 feet. These are the human food raiders.
2) Unhabituated Bears: Most all of the rest of the bears in over 95% of the Sierra that you never see or who run away at the first sight of you.
Hanging food is still a viable way to secure your food if done right. Then again I could take my food into the Sierra in paper sacks and bears would never get it. The problem is, you cannot legislate stupidity or ignorance (hence a propensity for Ranger types to make "one rule fits all" proclamations). I once saw a group of about 10 guys at Glen Aulin (habituated bears there) who lost half their food to bears, even though they all had bear cans! I have had to shoo bears away from other peoples (ripped-up) packs because they forgot to secure some of their food, even with about 6 bear lockers in the area. Stupid. Careless.
And "bear-resistant" containers mean just that. On two occasions I have toted out of the back-country bear can remains.

As an aside here: I would not have a problem with the silly bear can rules in some of the parks if they accepted the URSACK (http://www.ursack.com/), which has been proven over and over again to be as "bear resistant" as bear cans. But no, the whole issue is embroiled in politics and more, so the Ursack is wrongfully excluded from much of Yosemite and SEKI. It is a shame and probably a crime.
And don't get me started about the huggy anthropomorphizing "oooh the're just big teddy bears!" dingbats when in reality black bears are intelligent omnivores who would eat you if they could just figure it out but are fortunately genetically programmed by grizzlies (now long gone in the Sierra) to fear anything bigger than they are.

The real answer to keeping black bears unhabituated is intelligence and knowledge combined with good back-country practices. Bear cans and Ursacks are a good start, but it takes more than that to keep food out of the paws of bears. That is all I have to say.
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Re: bear harassment

Postby rlown » Sat Dec 18, 2010 10:27 pm

Might not be all you have to say.. ;)

I was searching the nps docs and even the ursack site for why they (nps) didn't allow it. I can tell you point blank that some of the places i go, there is no place to hang a sack. Pics of any can pieces you brought out would be helpful as well. One would think those would be useful to park mgmt.

If you can point us to where and why cans are preferred over sacks, that'd be great. anyone actually, as i cant find the base study..

PS: Didn't like the pic of the bear chewing on the ursack and damaging the tree in their homepage video..
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Re: bear harassment

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Dec 18, 2010 10:46 pm

OK, here are the details of my bear encounters. I backpacked 20 years in the Wind River Mountains and only saw one bear in the distance and followed fresh bear tracks in the snow. In 2009, a yearling bear came into our camp on the Wind River Indian Reservation and rolled my bear canister around, then came to the tent door like he wanted to play. I got up, waved my trekking poles and yelled and he moved on. Since moving to California about 15 years ago I have seen LOTS of bears, some in very remote off-trail areas.
1. On trail to Vernon Lake, with three others, out of Hetch Hetchy- young bears couple hundred feet away. They ran away when we snapped a stick.
2. Many bears in Yosemite Valley campgrounds. Bear broke into the car of one in our group- his teenage son left a bag of chips- the bear neatly punched out the window, took the chips.
3. At night a bear bit through my toothpaste that I had accidently left out about 2 miles up the trail from Little Yosemite Valley, I never saw the bear.
4. Camped out next to my car, in the sagebrush downstream of Silver Lake, I awoke to heavy breathing just above my face and not the romantic kind! I startled, heard footsteps, dark as hell, I got in my car and moved about a mile away.
5. On trail back from Hamilton Lake, first saw a huge bear tearing up a log eating ants in one direction, while the tourist at the Bearpaw High Sierra Camp were out on the porch drinking coffee in the other direction. Nobody at the high camp saw the bear. Few hours later I was headed up the trail towards the pass and mama bear and cub were coming down. We stopped. Mama got up on haunches, scurried cub into bushes; I took off pack and got out my ice axe and put pack back on. It was a standoff. I slowly moved forward talking to the bear. I passed, never looked back. I had absolutely NO food in my pack. This was my only true “confrontation”. I would have left the trail if possible- could not- cliffs and extremely steep thick brush on all sides.
6. Way off trail heading to Hutchins Creek Lakes, I spotted a mamma and 2 cubs; she ran the cubs up the tree, I moved sideways into a boulder field and passed.
7. Early season at lake about a mile off-trail north of Pleasant Valley, mama and 2 cubs- she ran cubs up the tree and stood on hind legs, I turned around and left as quick as possible.
8. Next day, same trip I spotted about 7 bears at a distance in the snow on the top of Rancheria Mountain, they saw me and simply ignored me; I walked on.
9. Coming back from a trip up Jack Main Canyon, from Tilden Lake, I took the next trail to the southeast, saw one bear an hour, about 300 feet off the trail; about 5 bears total. I talked to the bears the entire time on that trail. When I got to Tiltill Valley, I climbed up the biggest rock I could find and slept on top.
10. Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne- several bears in Pate Valley, along with several large rattlesnakes. They were in the distance, we walked on.
11. Hiking down to Mumford Bar on the North Fork of the American River, I spot a bear down by the river, I turn around and went back uphill. I did not stick around to see where the bear went.
12. Hiking the Lost Coast, I come around the corner and two bears are copulating; I am a bit embarrassed; they hiss and growled but did not move, I hightailed it out of there!
13. Bear on trail in distance between Roaring Fork and Colby Lake. It ran off.
14. Bear on Snow Creek Trail near the top of Mt Watkins. It ran off.
Those are just the ones I remember off the top of my head. I just thought everyone ran into bears in the Sierra. For those who do not see bears in the Sierra, open your eyes and look! I bet you were near lots but they simply ran off before you saw them. I use a bear canister all the time and am a meticulous camper and still have a great deal of respect for bears. They are not “big dogs”. I am darned scared every time I run into one or more when I am alone. This summer I only saw one. I think it was more a case of not being where there were lots of bears. Perhaps everyone using canisters is making a difference. It will be interesting to see how many I see next year.
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Re: bear harassment

Postby gdurkee » Sat Dec 18, 2010 10:58 pm

Hanging food is still a viable way to secure your food if done right. Then again I could take my food into the Sierra in paper sacks and bears would never get it. The problem is, you cannot legislate stupidity or ignorance (hence a propensity for Ranger types to make "one rule fits all" proclamations).


Well, everyone's experience is, of course, different. I have to say that in mine, hanging just doesn't work -- or at least fails enough even when done "right" that it just can't be recommended. The ultimate goal is to keep bears from getting habituated to or seeking human food. Hanging can't be depended on to do that. As long as there's a chance they can get the food, they'll keep trying. That's the reason the Ursack has not been allowed (through about 4 different designs and material changes). They may not fail catastrophically -- that is, a bear may not rip the entire thing open and get all the food -- but in each test, they've had small holes chewed or torn through them and bears gets a "food reward" and keep trying. They'll spend hours trying, tearing up the ground around where the sack is tied &/or girdling the tree where it's attached. This is from actual field use and observation. It's not some random thing rangers or gubment workers do to annoy backcountry users or Ursack manufacturer.

So it all comes back to canisters. In about 15 years of use, I know of maybe only 5 that have failed and the reasons for the failures are known and have been mitigated by the manufacturers. In the Charlotte Lake area (Kearsarge, Bubbs, Forester), bear activity has had a dramatic decline in the last 10 years. From bears routinely checking campsites and being dependent on human food 10 years ago, today they only come through (mostly) as a normal part of their foraging for natural foods. This is incredible, statistically documented and due entirely to people using bear canisters or boxes. They're a pain, but they work.

George
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Re: bear harassment

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Sat Dec 18, 2010 11:05 pm

rlown wrote:Might not be all you have to say.. ;)

Only in defense of the Ursack. I have used Ursacks for years and bears have either ignored it or sniffed at it and then passed on by. Many places in the high country I have not attached the Ursack to anything. Most of the time I don't. There is no need. In the high country there are no habituated bears, and my biggest concern is marmots. (The only places I ever saw a habituated bear in the high county (over 8000 feet) is at those highly human impacted High Sierra Camps.) I have seen bear tracks over 11,000 feet on passes, but those bears were not habituated. As for the cable wearing on trees, never seen it happen, and so what? There are billions of trees and one bear sharpening its claws (which they do often) will do more "damage". It is not an issue.

Any place I go in the Sierra the Ursack is preferred over any of those silly cans. Again, I have never lost my food to bears, I never will, and I have had uncountable bear sightings and encounters.
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Re: bear harassment

Postby rlown » Sat Dec 18, 2010 11:08 pm

bear claw sharpening is vertical. ursack girdling is horizontal. large difference.
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