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Contoversial Bear Repellant Techniques

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Re: Contoversial Bear Repellant Techniques

Postby Hetchy » Sat Dec 11, 2010 10:44 am

fishmonger wrote:take a few permits away, fine them. My experience is that about one in five doesn't use a can, and most of them are proud of it. Some sort of PCT hiker's badge of honor - you qualify if you manage to get through the Sierras without a can and leeching most of your food from hiker barrels, while spending your food budget on booze at VVR and ice cream at Mammoth...

I know, I know... :-({|=


Unfortunately i think you are right about those numbers. To make matters worse there are some very respected Long Distance Hikers that flat out advocate scoffing the canister rules in Seki and Yosemite.
I don't know about booze at VVR, I skipped it, but I think you are right about that too.
The sad fact is that all it takes is one ignorant jerk in our community to poison the well for the rest of us. There is a reason some people react negatively when they see "us" (thru hikers) on trail.
One of the problems is, that the success of those few scofflaws emboldens those that follow.
That is where i was trying to go with my point. If there were a lighter, less bulky method of safe food storage that had a similar success rate as a canister more people would carry it.
Hmm. actually i am looking at this backwards huh?
People should do the right thing because the want to protect the bears ergo the wilderness they are supposedly there to enjoy.
I can't defend the actions of those that choose to skirt the regulations no matter how I spin it.
I really don't know if they would carry and ursack if it were approved either.
On a positive note, Bearvault sells the BV500 and ships to general delivery address for hikers at a discount. Also the Saufley's, a southern California Trail Angel couple, organize a Bear canister loaner program every year. I have my own canister but when i passed through their place they had 20 bear cans waiting to be shipped to Kennedy Meadows(South)!
I will say this. There is a great forum to educate thru hikers in person once a year. The annual ADZPCTKO at Lake Morena country Park in So Cal. A forest service ranger gives a "Bear Talk" each year. The information is out there so those that choose not to carry a bear canister have no excuse.
However on my hike in 2009 I only saw one ranger on the trail in 2,665 miles. It was just after Echo Lake heading in to the Desolation Wilderness.

If someone wanted to truly enforce the Bear canister requirements the place to do it is in Kennedy Meadows South. It's not in Seki but it is the last stop every single Northbound hiker makes before heading into the Sierra. I think if the "Bear Talk" happened there combined with a cannister rental opportunity compliance would undoubtedly be increased.

There i go again looking at the situaction in reverse!
I am caught between two worlds. On one hand I know that cannisters are absolutely saving bears lives in the man habituated area. On the other hand I just got done hiking 5,600 miles and only used a cannister in the 200 miles of required places without incident. I am glad I carried the canister through Seki and Yosemite but honestly did not miss it everywhere else. Nor do I feel it was neccesary anywhere else provided stealth camping techniques are used.

P.S. I am glad i brought this topic up. At first i thought I would get a lot of angry reponses but you have all been thoughtful and productive. That was the spirit and intent of my posting. There are a lot of folks out there that are fronting all kinds of crazy ideas.. anything but carrying a bear canister. By the way.. the Mothball/tobacco sack idea.. That is a horse packers idea! It just illustrates the way each of us, myself included, rationalize our use and misuse of the wilderness.
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Re: Contoversial Bear Repellant Techniques

Postby rlown » Sat Dec 11, 2010 2:03 pm

Hetchy wrote:However on my hike in 2009 I only saw one ranger on the trail in 2,665 miles. It was just after Echo Lake heading in to the Desolation Wilderness.

If someone wanted to truly enforce the Bear canister requirements the place to do it is in Kennedy Meadows South. It's not in Seki but it is the last stop every single Northbound hiker makes before heading into the Sierra. I think if the "Bear Talk" happened there combined with a cannister rental opportunity compliance would undoubtedly be increased.


BC rangers are definitely underfunded for the "omnipresence effect" that most law enforcement programs use. It's probably not just thru-hikers. Keep your can close, and your water filter closer.. :)

I'd love to see steeper citations, but not a blanket right to search my pack other than to identify i'm carrying a can. Expulsion from the trail and the citation would be nice if no legal food storage device.

Wasn't it on the AT where that smarter than the average bear got into a BV? I seem to remember that from an old BSquared post..
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Re: Contoversial Bear Repellant Techniques

Postby oldranger » Sat Dec 11, 2010 3:09 pm

rlown

Having been the ranger... There is usually no need to submit to a search beyond proving the presence of a legal container (where required). Just say no! What is the ranger going to do pull a gun? Similarly a ranger really can't force you out of the backcountry. Again, really are they going to pull a gun on you? and if they do, and you ignore them are they going to shoot you? The only time I told people they had to leave was when they had a dog. I never issued a citation because the threat of a citation was my biggest leverage. I'd also mention additional potential charges of failure to obey a lawful order. I generally felt that having to reverse direction was a significant disincentive for repeat offenses. I also pointed out that there were thousands of acres of Forest Service Land where they could take their dogs.

Anyhow I seldom carried my gun and sometimes when I did I left the bullets at the ranger station--a real Barney Fife! I don't think I could get away from that as a commissioned ranger anymore.

mike
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Re: Contoversial Bear Repellant Techniques

Postby The Other Tom » Sat Dec 11, 2010 7:53 pm

dave54 wrote:I have been looking for a U.S source for these:

http://www.ursusinternational.org/en/bangers.html

How about a paint ball marker ?(That's the official name...they don't call them guns for obvious reasons) . They're loud and shoud provide a good sting. I think they make paint ball pistol type markers (lighter weight than a rifle type paint ball marker).
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Re: Contoversial Bear Repellant Techniques

Postby gdurkee » Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:27 am

I like the banjo suggestion to go with the tobacco. The moth ball thing is one of those trail myths that never dies. It started years ago when a large amount of moth balls were dumped in the Yellowstone dump (well, that's the way I remember the story. Seems a little weird). Anyway, the bears stayed away. This was in the 70s and I've heard this story since.

It doesn't work in the quantities you could carry and there's no way I'd carry moth balls. That stuff's dangerous. The tobacco is just a variation, I guess.

Bears are bears. They know what food looks like, what it goes inside. Smell is only one of the senses they use. Canisters or steel boxes are the only thing that works. Really. You can't hang your food anymore such that a persistent bear can't get it.

Under no circumstances would I ever sleep with my food, whatever the perceived bear habituation danger is. Once again, a bear is a bear. The want food. True, most like to avoid people, but it's actually the semi-wild ones (black bears) who have been responsible for the human fatalities.

And, sure, you could dangle all these assorted bear bombs, flare guns, sprays, rocks, whistles, etc. off you, but the canisters work. All the time. Get one and forget all that other stuff. I fired several rounds with a shotgun propelled rubber bullet at a bear a couple of years ago. He was not phased (hmmm, Kirk, that's fazed, though maybe I should have phased him) and was back later that evening. In Little Yosemite Valley in the early 70s, we spent a huge amount of time on adverse conditioning. We used bird shot, firing .38 rounds in the dirt, sling shots, rocks, hung a bag of fresh African lion scat (don't ask, though really a great story), electric fences, a variety of hanging methods and a chainsaw (again, don't ask). Nothing worked. Nothing. Thank god they don't have thumbs or we'd be at their mercy.

g.
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Re: Contoversial Bear Repellant Techniques

Postby fishmonger » Thu Feb 10, 2011 7:24 am

I saw a ranger repeatedly fire what appeared to be a paintball gun at a trouble bear in Tuolumne Meadows two summers ago - it was crawled up on a tree and about 20 campers were surrounding it to watch the scene. (half an hour ago it came through our camp, sniffing inside my pack and moved on to the next site - guess the law caught up with it). Is that another strategy to encourage the bear not to come back?
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Re: Contoversial Bear Repellant Techniques

Postby Hetchy » Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:45 pm

gdurkee wrote:I like the banjo suggestion to go with the tobacco. The moth ball thing is one of those trail myths that never dies. It started years ago when a large amount of moth balls were dumped in the Yellowstone dump (well, that's the way I remember the story. Seems a little weird). Anyway, the bears stayed away. This was in the 70s and I've heard this story since.

g.


Yea that mothballs in tobacco sacks thing just wont go away. Over on another forum there is a well known horse packer that advocates that. To my way of thinking his 2000 lb arabian horse might be the real deterrant to the bear rather than his mothball gimmicks.
The same fellow also caches human and horse food in OP sacks in the Sierra so he does'nt have to make resupplies to towns. In fact he scoffs at us thru hikers for going into town to resupply.

The good news is that bear canisters are made available for loan to PCT hikers by a Trail angel in Agua Dulce. Also Bear vault offers us a significant discount on the BV500 and ships to the trail at Kennedy Meadows.

Yet there is still an element of well know trail personalities that tries to convince hikers to skip bear canisters in favor of trying to hike through the mandated areas using the steel bear boxes where possible. They point to the coverage map posted on the SBBIG site and elsewhere as a guide to how hikers can get through the Sierra without using a bear canister.
It's true that a thru hiker with 700 miles on their legs could cross the distances through the canister required areas and use the steel bear boxes in campgrounds along the way but the reality is the Sierra is not alway the idea place to make high mileage. Especially since thru hikers leaving KM typically in June will almost certainly enounter a lot of snow over the passes and in some years(2006) have had contiuous snow for the whole southern section.

Thru hikers for the most part are convinced of the need for a bear resistant canister between Kennedy meadows(south) and Tuolumne Meadows. Most will carry them all the way to Echo lake. But frankly after the only other place to have a bear problem was Sierra City. From there all the way to Canada PCT hikers either sleep with or hang their food without incident.
Something is going on. Either the bears are less man habituated or the stealth camping practices of the thru hikers give them immunity. Maybe unwashed thru hikers just stink too much for wild bears to tolerate.. I am serious!
Whatever the cause I can't find a single incident of a thru hiker having lost food to a bear in northern California(Beyond Sierra city), Oregon, or Washington while on trail and stealth camped.
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Re: Contoversial Bear Repellant Techniques

Postby gdurkee » Thu Feb 10, 2011 5:03 pm

Fishmonger: yep, that's their ongoing attempt at aversive conditioning. I don't have much faith in it, but it's better than killing bears. In LYV, we were there 24/7 and constantly hazing bears. It taught them to recognize us however we were dressed and run, but didn't affect how much food they were getting in the least. We probably had around 5 resident bears in the area then.

Hetchy: Hadn't heard about the packer. It's sort of like a reservoir for a virus, just keeps popping up when you thought it dead for good.. . Interesting about bears to the north. I still wouldn't sleep with my food. If there's no incidents, it could well be that hanging will work. Definitely not "stealth" camping. Bears just go everywhere in search of food. There's nowhere a person is going to go that a bear won't.

g.
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Re: Contoversial Bear Repellant Techniques

Postby paul » Thu Feb 10, 2011 10:24 pm

Big possibility as to why there are fewer bear issues north of Tahoe: they get shot at up there.
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Re: Contoversial Bear Repellant Techniques

Postby gary c. » Thu Feb 10, 2011 11:51 pm

paul wrote:Big possibility as to why there are fewer bear issues north of Tahoe: they get shot at up there.

Very possible, I have deer hunted a lot in the mountains around Greenhorn above lake Isabella and there are many bears in the area. I'm sure it has happened at some time but Ive never seen a bear come near a camp or camp ground looking for food. I've seen them near camps many tmes but they were just passing by and never a problem. The bears make a point to stay as clear of humans as much as possible or they don't live long enough to be a nuisance. No one worries about bears raiding ice chests or food boxes even when left outside at night. Because of the bears great fear of humans and there intelligence there population continues to grow despite heavy hunting pressure.

I've always thought that it would be worth a try for the FS to start shooting bears in areas like Yosemite with paintball guns as long as they changed the kind of ammo they used. I say shoot them every chance they get with paint balls filled with pepper spray instead of paint. At the same time they could place booby traped ice chests, backpacks, bear lockers, and just about anything else with bear spray. Of course the baited pepper traps would have to be marked or protected somehow from the public. My point is that because of a bears intelligence I don't think it would take much for them to get wise to the smell of pepper spray. After that all you would have to do is wipe the smallest amount of pepper juice on the bottom of your pack tent or even ice chest and I don't think that a bear would come within a 100yds of your camp.
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Re: Contoversial Bear Repellant Techniques

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Feb 11, 2011 7:52 am

paul wrote:Big possibility as to why there are fewer bear issues north of Tahoe: they get shot at up there.


I doubt that. They get shot in Sierra NF, and they are problems there. Not as much of a problem as in Yose, due to less traffic in general, tho. I suspect the real correlation is with high numbers of backpackers and hikers in the area.
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Re: Contoversial Bear Repellant Techniques

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Feb 11, 2011 7:56 am


I've always thought that it would be worth a try for the FS to start shooting bears in areas like Yosemite with paintball guns as long as they changed the kind of ammo they used. I say shoot them every chance they get with paint balls filled with pepper spray instead of paint. At the same time they could place booby traped ice chests, backpacks, bear lockers, and just about anything else with bear spray. Of course the baited pepper traps would have to be marked or protected somehow from the public. My point is that because of a bears intelligence I don't think it would take much for them to get wise to the smell of pepper spray. After that all you would have to do is wipe the smallest amount of pepper juice on the bottom of your pack tent or even ice chest and I don't think that a bear would come within a 100yds of your camp.


Pepper spray doesn't work that way. It needs to go into the mucous membrane of the target animal, not the coat of the animal. It only works if you spray it in the eyes/nose. You can't booby trap anything with it and expect to get a reliable dose administered where it needs to go.

As someone who's had pepper spray I can tell you it does nothing when it's on your skin. It's when you forget you handled the nozzle, rub your eye, and get a tiny bit of it in the corner that you realize it's there.
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