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bear harassment

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Re: bear harassment

Postby Cloudy » Sun Dec 19, 2010 12:02 am

While I haven't been able to hike in several years, I have had countless bear sightings during the course of my travels in the Sierra. Discounting Yosemite, I would say that I have run into the most bears on the Copper Creek Trail between Granite Basin and Simpson Meadow. Second would probably be the stretch up the Bubbs Creek Trail to Vidette Meadow. Third would be The High Sierra Trail to Bearpaw Meadow and on to Redwood Meadow. I am almost guaranteed of seeing at least one bear at some point on any of these sections of trail. However, I do quietly hike alone, and I keep an eye out for bears...

Alan



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Re: bear harassment

Postby quentinc » Sun Dec 19, 2010 1:04 pm

Doyle, I'll stick my neck out of my bear canister far enough to say I'm with you. Still, even if it weren't for the canister rules, there are certain places I'd be awfully iffy about trying to hang food, like in the Rae Lakes vicinity (hard to even find a decent tree there, apart from the fact that the bears are so habituated). Even pre-canister, though, I never had a problem finding space in the bear boxes that NPS thoughtfully provided. That probably wouldn't be the case over a holiday weekend (when, I suspect, they would be full of people's bear canisters -- seriously), but I wouldn't be caught dead going to place as popular as Rae Lakes on a holiday weekend.

I can't fit more than 4 days of food into my Garcia anyway, so on longer trips I just avoid camping in canister-required areas.
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Re: bear harassment

Postby TehipiteTom » Mon Dec 20, 2010 10:53 am

This is getting a little further afield, but...what the heck...

Am I just over-thinking this (well, okay, I'm pretty sure I'm over-thinking it), or is it really in kind of dubious taste to be releasing a Yogi Bear movie in this day and age? I mean, a movie where camp bear behavior is cute and adorable--really?

Besides being sort of a crappy cartoon in the first place, Yogi Bear was an artifact of a time before the current ethic of keeping food away from bears for their own sake became the norm. Every time I see a poster for the Yogi Bear movie the first phrase that goes through my head is "a fed bear is a dead bear". I don't think the movie will change anyone's behavior, but still...it just seems weird to me.

Is my reaction reasonable, or do I just need to get a life (well, okay, I know I need to get a life)?
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Re: bear harassment

Postby quentinc » Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:57 pm

TT, you can ban Yogi Bear, but please don't mess with Winnie the Pooh.

It's funny to bring an adult sensibility to classic kid movies. I always get a kick out of picturing NRA members squirming when their kids insist on watching Bambi.
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Re: bear harassment

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Mon Dec 20, 2010 5:47 pm

TehipiteTom wrote:Am I just over-thinking this (well, okay, I'm pretty sure I'm over-thinking it), or is it really in kind of dubious taste to be releasing a Yogi Bear movie in this day and age? I mean, a movie where camp bear behavior is cute and adorable--really?


WAAAAaa ha ha ha ha! :nod: :rolleyes: :lol: :yummy: :p ;) :bear: :lol: I knew there was something about that movie that bothered me (besides the fact I do a much better Yogi Bear than Dan A.). Yeah, I think you are right. But the movie did not open to big box-office. I do have a mental image of a Ranger watching this movie, smacking their forehead and going "Doh!".

Happy Hollidays All!
Doyle W. Donehoo
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http://www.doylewdonehoo.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: bear harassment

Postby richlong8 » Tue Dec 21, 2010 8:44 am

I did not see any bears this year- I spent 23 nights at various places. I did have one encounter @Courtwright Reservior trailhead parking lot..my friend left a couple pieces of beef jerkey in his pack, and the bear ripped the pocket off the pack in the middle of the night. Oversight and tiredness on his part- that is the first time I recall him making a mistake like that. I think that most of the time it is mistakes in the wrong place that causes bear problems.
I see more bear scat in the southern Sierra than the high sierra, but I did not spend any time north of the Bishop area this year, so that is my point of reference.
I carry a canister, but it sure is heavy! and most of the time, I think it is more about me obeying the rules, than the canister really being of any use. Marmots getting into my food concern me more than bears.
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Re: bear harassment

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Dec 21, 2010 12:15 pm

I tend to be pro-canister because it's a prophylactic. It lets people be lazy without wrecking life for the bears. Providing many opportunities for bears to get food will eventually result in them getting it, and liking it, and going out of their way to get more. Not providing opportunities keeps everyone safe.

I'm starting to take pictures of badly hung stuff as I run across it in the wild. Here is something from Vidette - where bear canisters are mandatory, and if you don't have one, there are bear boxes. And yet, we have this dumbly hung bag not five feet off the ground.
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Re: bear harassment

Postby gdurkee » Tue Dec 21, 2010 8:01 pm

Hmmmm. Why, that looks like it was hung by a horse packer group: thick rope, large bag. Almost certainly not a backpacker. Technically, even where canisters are required, if an "alert" person is up to watch it at night, it's OK. Dumb rule and hang hang, for sure.

Worse: if it was a horse group, there's no grazing at Vidette! Where was I?!??? A lot of potential violations and chances to educate the visiting public on the error of their ways!

George
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Re: bear harassment

Postby Cross Country » Thu Dec 23, 2010 10:25 pm

Thanks for that Doyle. What you said is what I have believed for 40 years. People on this forum had me convinced I was wrong, but that's what snowballs are all about. Now I believe it's exactly as you've stated it.
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Re: bear harassment

Postby gdurkee » Sun Dec 26, 2010 9:56 pm

Use of bear canisters is one of those classic things that depends on a critical mass of people using them to see the results. Kind of like people getting vaccinated. The good news is compliance is now over 90% in most places, so those few people who don't use them can say they don't have problems -- essentially because of the other 90% who do. This is not true in all areas because, as Doyle points out, some bears are not habituated. There's darned few of those bears and absolutely no bear that wouldn't quickly become dependent on human food given just 1/2 a chance. However, without a lot of local knowledge, there's really no way of telling where you're likely to run into bears who are human food dependent and so will go out of their way to get your food.

"Habituated" bears routinely go over 11,000 feet in several areas (Bishop Pass, Kearsarge, Dumbell Lakes, several areas in Yosemite, etc.). I will also claim a fair amount of experience with bears -- 7 years in both Yosemite Valley and Little Yosemite; 35 in Sequoia Kings. And, now it can be revealed, a PhD thesis give me and Mead Hargis credit for "inventing" counter-balancing. Sorry to have inflicted that on everyone, but it was the best we could do at the time. What I've learned from all this is how quickly bears figure things out. "Don't underestimate an animal you can teach to ride a bicycle" is the old joke. What's great is how quickly they've gone back to nuts and berries with the introduction of boxes and canisters. This directly translates to fewer people's trips ruined by losing their food; less garbage strewn about (and not picked up) from bears; and just your average prowlin' & growlin' bears avoiding people, as they should.

So, it's definitely true that a number of people can hike and not have their food taken by bears. There's some skill involved but I also have to say that there's a huge amount of luck as well as local knowledge that's difficult to copy. What concerns me is that now that we've achieved a pretty incredible compliance rate and and a very, very low rate of bears getting food in the backcountry, that people will stop using canisters. And, the ONLY reason we still have a few bears actively seeking out human's food is because of the people who ignore proper food storage requirements.

I definitely respect others' experience, but there's also a "big picture" here that can only be seen from the cumulative experience of thousands of visitor and bear contacts over a wide geographic area: canisters work. Let's not fool around with that.

George
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Re: bear harassment

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Dec 27, 2010 10:16 am

George,

If it was a horse packer, I saw no indication of it. We saw some old hoof prints but no sign of horses. This was early September 2010. About 50 feet beyond the hung bag there was a single tent, one of the large heavy cheap kind, might have been a 3 person Kelty.

It amazes me sometimes the things people will carry on their backs.

More on topic... for every backpacker I've spoken to who claims they sleep with their food and never have a problem, I've talked to another who's had mice, coons or bear hanging about or trying to drag off the pack. Last year a couple people I have hiked with (part of a large hiking group) had stories of Yosemite bears dragging away their backpacks and destroying gear to get food. They were carrying canisters. Bears evidently recognize packs as possible food sources and will sometimes snatch and run with it if you set the pack down for some reason leaving it unattended. A hammocker had his empty pack dangling from the end of the hammock in Tuolumne Backpacker Campground (where it is posted specifically to put packs in bear boxes) and had a bear wake him up trying to yank it off.

I've gone rounds with people who think bears are bad just in areas where they are no longer hunted and see that as a possible solution to the problem. That doesn't explain Dinkey Wilderness, where there have been bear issues - not as many as the national parks for sure, but still more issues than less traveled areas. You can still hunt in Dinkey, and surrounding non-wilderness national forest.

And, lastly, and tangentially related... I took a small group into Jennie Lakes Wilderness this last summer. We showed up at Big Meadow trailhead to find a truck that had been broken into - I recognized it as belonging to someone I know - and backpacking gear and food were strewn around on the ground. There was no real indication the hard top had been opened by a bear; it was too neat, looked like a well placed crowbar at the lock on the hardtop, so I suspect that someone was looking for tools and was disappointed to find an old backpack, a bear canister, and packages of freeze dried lasagna and fettucine, so left the mess for the animals to find... which they did, as animals clearly had ripped apart stuff, but no indication what kind of animal - could have been a dog, squirrel, fox.... The rangers fined the guy who owned the truck as if he'd left food in and a bear got into it. There are no bear boxes at the trailhead, no signs warning or suggesting bear problems - no indication that bears routinely break into cars and no other cars broken into despite the obvious bags and random cups, chip bags and whatever in the back seats. Also, no bear prints near the truck. Adding insult to injury, I had called the district office and specifically asked about bear issues in Jennie, and was told "there are none, but take a canister if you aren't comfortable hanging food." Jennie Lakes is in a national forest near Sequoia NP. So fines do not exist only in national parks.... Be careful about your car too. (My friend contested the fine, not sure if he succeeded. It was $120. In Yosemite they can fine you up to $5000 for improper food storage.)
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Re: bear harassment

Postby mokelumnekid » Mon Dec 27, 2010 1:41 pm

Gdurkee:

*Habituated* bears in Dumbbell Lakes basin? That's a surprise to me- but I've only spent more than a couple of days camping there once, and hiked around in it once. So wadda I know? I am surprised that above 11,000 ft how little sign of bear I see- and being a geologist I'm always poking around looking at stuff. Of course the absence of evidence is not the same as the evidence of absence, but knock on wood we've never had problems. But we avoid most of the places where people tend to congregate, so statistically speaking perhaps we've been less likely to encounter them.
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