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Them damCan Regs.

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Re: Them damCan Regs.

Postby whrdafamI? » Fri Sep 02, 2011 4:40 pm

Apparently you have never seen the results of a bear attack on someone who got "aggressive".
Better to have it and not need it than it is to need it and not have it!

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Re: Them damCan Regs.

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:19 pm

Geez, it seems ever year or so there is another crop of beginners or others with distorted ideas about bears, and it does not help there are those out there who think bears are just big cute teddy bears and go spastic when catching sight of a cub. Once at a trailhead before a backpack, a woman backpacker told me straight up that bears were more important than humans. Some just don’t understand that bears are wild creatures like marmots and deer, only that bears can (and sometimes do) turn predatory, and we are on the menu. Even some Rangers, who should know better, seem under-informed: for example I have at times attempted to explain to them that Black Bears do not physiologically hibernate.

I have had more bear encounters than I can remember. Along with my backpack partner and solo, we have run off bears, rescued other backpackers backpacks from bears, seen them in various colors and not always black, unexpectedly met them off-trail, observed them in the backcountry at close range and surprised them (and us) nearly face to face. I have never lost my wariness of them, but I understand them enough to respect them.

As far as I am concerned, there are two kinds of bears: Habituated Bears and Un-habituated Bears.
Habituated Bears: These bears are usually found in car campgrounds and camps near trailheads and one days travel from the trailhead (though these particular ones seem to be thinning out), and are the "problem bears". Generally, habituated bears can be found in places where there is a big human impact. These bears do nearly all of the camp raiding and human food snatching. These bears are unusually bold, but they are solely interested in human food, and not the humans themselves, but they are the ones most likely to generate a Bear Incident. Bears are as unpredictable as humans, but it is very rare for a habituated bear to be found in remote areas that have little human impact.
Un-habituated Bears: These are the vast majority of bears, are shy and usually run away as fast as they can when catching sight of humans (a habit they learned when they were sharing the Sierra with the grizz), and generally avoid humans and live in areas with low human impact. These bears are usually found well below tree-line in habitat that can sustain them. Sure, you might find scat above tree-line (I have seen bear tracks above 11,000 feet on a pass), but bears will cross ridges and passes to reach richer pastures. With enough temptation, they can be habituated, but it takes a lot of food and its availability to make it worth their while to make them habituated.

While I could go into the Sierra with my food in paper bags without fear of losing any (I have never lost my food to bears and there will never be a first time), I now use a can (if I have to) or my Ursack (for the rest of the time: much better and just as safe). Mostly I think bear containers best use is to keep out marmots and other critters. But it is best to remember that bear containers are bear resistant, not bear proof. I have packed out pieces of bear-can that I found.
And just because people use a bear can does not mean people with bear cans are not losing their food to bears, because they do. One time at Glen Aulen I saw a group of 14 backpack beginners who had lost half their food despite the fact all had bear cans. The bear had invited itself to breakfast (from open bear cans), and they had no idea how to rescue at least some of their food. A good example of a bear incident in a high human impact area.

I have to admit, I do think that bear-resistant containers have reduced the number of habituated bears, because in recent years I have seen no habituated bears and only the usual few un-habituated bears. It is getting so if you DO see a bear, you are lucky to have that privilege. Count yourself fortunate if you see one.

In particular, I think beginner backpackers should use bear-cans no matter where they go. Well experienced backpackers can follow rules and use discretion when there are options available.

I always now use some sort of bear resistant container, but my favorite is the Ursack. It is just as good as a can, much lighter, easier to pack and if there was justice in the world it would be approved in all areas. Experienced backpackers, lite-packers and mountaineers would sure appreciate it. The Ursack failure rate is no worse than rigid-side containers. The best argument its detractors can come up with is that something could leak out; but what sort of fool carries enough liquid with their food to leak a “significant bear reward”!? Bears need between 2000 and 3000 calories a day, and something leaking out of an Ursack would come nowhere near that. If you need to carry that much liquid, then use a bear can! I could live with a rule that says “no more than 8 ounces of liquid can be carried in a Ursack”. I don’t know about you, but all of my food-stuffs are dry. No bear can get into my Ursacked food, and never will.
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Re: Them damCan Regs.

Postby markskor » Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:25 pm

frediver wrote:IMO we need to be more reactive... aggressive for better long term health of the
bear population.


Puzzled by what you mean by reactive… Agree with above that getting too close to any wild bear is always a bad idea.
Are you advocating rubber-bullet guns (like the Rangers use now in YNP), or pepper spray, or perhaps tazars… perhaps real guns? How close do you figure you have to get to a bear to use any of these “reactive” measures effectively?

IMHO, the current agenda of requiring a bear cans/ food storage in the wilderness is working pretty well. In fact, feel that the posted areas of mandatory can carry could easily be expanded too...writing is clearly on the bear’s Facebook wall.

Evidence (see a past George D posting) shows recently, where cans are mandated, that 99% of all bear scat today is now aluminum free. Thus evidence indicates the bears are not getting anything in the way of human food in the backcountry, at least not as much as they were 10 years earlier when cans were just an idea and hanging was permitted.

Trailhead areas remain the main culprits today. Too many ice chests left out, too much food waiting in the open air unwatched, too many cars with food stored inside, and too many folks afraid to chuck a few boulders.

Maybe you cannot fix stupid and sadly perhaps, not much can be done to educate the clueless, but as for backpackers, the rules are the rules. Carry a can; it works!
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Re: Them damCan Regs.

Postby frediver » Sat Sep 03, 2011 1:35 am

1st I am not really new at this, IE. not a beginner.
Funny though, tonight I watched some youtube of a bear
robbing grocery bags at whitney trailhead. IMO that
video looked to well staged to be an accidental loss of food,
IMO this hiker wanted the video.
I can really only vent or Rant at my frustration over the
bearcan issue in general.
The poster is correct concerning the "camp/trailhead" bear problem,
is this problem spreading out to the back country, can or could it be stopped
who knows. We had this same type discussion over a year ago.
I still feel that a more active deterrent could be developed.
I favor pepper balls, good for both 4 and 2 legged predators.
Pepper balls would also allow for a bit more stand off distance between
the shooter and bear, chucking boulders means you are to close.
What is your alternate plan if rocks or harsh language don't work.
I feel the lack of a reasonable alternate means of defense is why more
people do not chuck boulders.
Old style dog traps could be set and substitute pepper for the cyanide.
In another state I have heard ( not sure where ) food traps have been set
with Alka-Seltzer tabs in the food to give a bear a major belly ache when
they robbed the set.
Regarding the absence of Aluminum in the bear poop all that could just be
due to repackaging of food to save weight and space in a pack/can.
We could go back and forth all week with this.
I'm sorry I opened this can of worms, lets just bury it.
Like I said, if I must carry a can I will, I just don't want to.

"Buy a pack that is 2.8 pounds lighter and a Bearicade. The net will be a lighter load than you had before."
It's tough to get much lighter than a G-4.
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Re: Them damCan Regs.

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Sep 04, 2011 6:05 am

:rolleyes:

What are you going to do when yelling and throwing rocks doesn't work? ha. It's worked for years. It's never NOT worked. It's only going to not work if the bear HAS the food, at which point - duh, let him have it, don't provoke a fight. Deed is done. Yosemite website says just that. And then you clean up after him and go home, or at least to the store, and store the food right next time.

Are you sure we're talking about the same state? California bears aren't Alaskan bears.

Just FYI, there are more incidents in Yosemite parking lots, cabins and populated frontcountry where bears cause damage - 500 to 2-5 in the backcountry, thereabouts. The only injuries due to bears have been directly related to improper food storage. There have been ZERO deaths due to bears in Yosemite.

People caused this problem and if they CONSISTENTLY followed the food storage rules they would solve it. The problem is that bears still get food, and people don't take the bear canisters seriously. It's too heavy and won't fit (because they didn't read the rules and plan to pack it in the backpack) so they leave it in the trunk and try to hang, sleep with the food, pile rocks on it - and surprise surprise, a bear gets fed. And they are clearly not doing well with cleaning out their cars, there are habitual repeat offenders like the yearling in Tuolumne Meadows trying to get into the rangers' cabins.

The SAR team uses bear cans, and they are hauling a whole lot more than you are. Plus they are using the heavy ol' Garcia cans. So it could be worse...
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Re: Them damCan Regs.

Postby fishmonger » Sun Sep 04, 2011 6:49 am

frediver wrote:The more they are in wide spread use the more Bear Confrontations seem to happen.



"seem to happen" - how do you figure?

Not sure if you have been in the Sierras in the 80s, but I can tell you that every night at ANY campsite between Whitney and Yosemite was a bear party. Sleep was a rare event, as you spent half the night chasing bears off your poorly hung food. All they did back then was patrol camp sites, smell for humans, because in more cases than not, it was a guaranteed easy meal.

Any time you camped above timber line, it was a lottery, hoping no bear would want to cross over the pass that night (and they do that more often than you would expect)

Just look what bear lockers did to places like Reds Meadow campground, where we had to put our food on top of the bathroom buildings, and we could set our watches for the daily 6am bear dumpster visit. Bears still show up where people without bear cans hang out such as Tuloumne Meadows Campground, but only because among 300 sites you will have about 50 wilderness noobs who don't take the warnings seriously enough, allowing bears to get frequent food rewards.

Where bear cans are used, they don't even bother any longer. They just move on to an easier food source.


and that whitney gocery bag video - exactly the same as the idiot campers who expect bears to come in only when there's no human watching stuff. If you allow this to happen, you train them to try it again. Vigilant use of bear canisters and NEVER leaving food unattended is the only way to get them to go elsewhere, but places like Whitney Portal attract too many people who just don't have the slightest idea about the problem and how to deal with bears (how about honking that horn a little earlier and confronting that bear aggressively? guess you had to be around in the 80s to know how they will react).

If you get deep into the backcountry, where most hikers carry canisters now, you will have a very different bear population. They have abandoned their daily camp site raids due to lack of success. Canisters provide peace of mind for the hiker against bears and rodents above treeline. It's the best 30 ounces I ever packed into my pack, and I've done the JMT about 10 times before the cans were even invented. Never lost any food in those years, but did I ever lose sleep...

The night before the morning campfire photo in my avatar was taken was one of the most memorable bear visits I can recall - somewhere way off the beaten path on the trail up to Goodale Pass near VVR, where you rarely see any humans. This was in 1989, and the bear came at 3am - was half way up the mediocre tree we had to use to hang food, and from the moment I woke up to dawn, i had to be outside the tent, with flashlight and then campfire to keep the bear from trying again and again. Cat-like critters - for minutes at a time I could not hear or see it, and then suddenly it was within feet of me sniffing my water bag laying on a log behind me. Then it suddenly was back at the tree with the food, and there were millions of dry twigs on the ground, except the only one making noise was me. Needless to say, we got going before 6am that morning (we also had an earthquake that night...)

So you can say not taking a bear can will provide life-long memories. Not sure if they are the good stuff you are looking for when hiking in the backcountry.

The most disturbing BS I've recently read came from Mr. Pro hiker Skurka, more or less telling the world that he's above the law and doens't need to follow the bear can regulations because he knows what to do to avoid bear contact. The guy should lose all his sponsors for statements like this one:

I consider carrying a canister when it IS required, and usually I do. I do not carry a canister to protect my food, the bears, or my fellow backcountry user -- I can do those things without a one. Instead, I carry one in order to protect myself from backcountry rangers, who could fine me if I'm caught without one.


found here under where to carry a can:
http://www.andrewskurka.com/advice/tech ... isters.php

What he doesn't realize is how bad things were before all us other lowly hikers started carrying cans to allow a few UL bozos to sneak through while breaking the rules.
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Re: Them damCan Regs.

Postby lambertiana » Sun Sep 04, 2011 8:06 pm

I can only speak from my experience, but every single back country bear encounter that I have had resulted in the bear turning tail and running away after just a yell or two. Even in trailhead areas a well placed rock worked every time I tried it.

The canisters do work, the bears in the back country have learned that they cannot get at food in a properly closed canister and move on. I had a bear walk through my camp once and knock over the three canisters we had, and then move on once it became apparent that they were closed. No messing with them to see if they could be opened. To me that is evidence that the canisters do work.
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Re: Them damCan Regs.

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:21 am

As an example of unpredictable black bear behavior, in today's news, at Lake Tahoe a bear car-jacked a Prius and it crashed into a neighboring house. No food was involved. True story.

Back when bears were a bit thicker in the back-country (when we were hanging food), there were/are other ways of avoiding camp-pests. Knowing bears are creatures of habit (they tend to make rounds), we would camp some distance away from well used camps (if possible). Another trick that seemed to work was to avoid camp-fires, which we believe attracts bears. Habituated bears associate people with food, so it is no stretch for them to associate camp-fires with people. Old Indian saying, "To find white man, look for smoke."
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Re: Them damCan Regs.

Postby SSSdave » Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:30 am

Been lurking behind this hot button thread watching how it would develop. Rather predictably has run its usual course including minor misinformation and a few anectdotal accounts I view with a considerable grain of salt. I tend to agree with much of what DoyleWDonehoo related and like him am an old backpacker that has a long history back before the days of canisters of not losing food. I am not at all a fan of the ban on Ursacks nor of the need to instead carry canisters without considerations of where one is camping at. If one is merely passing through a known bear area with an intent to camp where a cannister is not required, I don't see the need to carry a canister as that is rather inconsiderately inflexible. Fortunately Inyo National Forest that has considerable bear issues in many areas has done an excellent job in being considerate in many of their policies. Policies in some of the national parks have on the other hand been rather inflexible.

The requirements for bear canisters have done much good for the sake of black bears in the Sierra. The reality has been that there were always a considerable number of ignorant, lazy, and or unskilled, backcountry visitors that did a poor job of protecting their food from bears. The end result not surprisingly is policies have evolved to consider the lowest common denominator of users as to where they draw the line. And that tends to grate against some of us that would otherwise not have significant issues. Accordingly I would prefer policies that offer more flexibility instead of black and white, one size fits all approaches.

Thus as a more extreme example if say I'm a peak bagger hiking from a mid elevation forest trailhead first ontrail then later up in timberline offtrail onto a crest ridgeline staging camp location over tedious fields of talus, I would hope such would not require lugging up a canister just like Ralph and Norbert down on a trail a mile below with their bacon breakfast and smoking fire beside Pipsqueek Lake. Yes an Ursack in such a situation but not a Garcia.

By far most backcountry visitors camp within earshot of trails, popular lake edges, or large streams. The most important strategy for not having to deal with bears is to NOT CAMP in those places or obvious use routes to such places, not make fires, and not make a lot of noise long into evenings. Instead we have a love for dawn and early mornings thus usually hit the sleeping bags soon as dusk darkens the sky.

There are some short trips where I bring my Garcia especially if our destination is to a known heavy bear zones. Like my trip last year to Kibbie Lake. Simply makes camp life simple and pleasant. But the canister requirements in national parks have essentially eliminated my ability to take trips longer than 6 days because the kind of food I prefer to bring won't fit. That is where an option for two Ursacks works while carrying two of the bulky cans simply won't fit in a pack besides being heavy.
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Re: Them damCan Regs.

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Mon Sep 05, 2011 1:06 pm

I agree with everything SSSdave said. I am of the same mindset where I hit the sack when it gets dark so I can be up in the morning, packed and leaving camp as sunlight hits so I can hike in the very best time of day when the world is new. I hate one size fits all rules. Lite-packers who count ever ounce hate rigid cans, and mountaineers (with bulky heavy gear-loads) who spend most of their time above treeline/bear-habitat hate the heavy cans, as do the more experienced backpackers. Ursacks are as good of cans (as has been proven), especially for those of us like the ones above. Only thing to do I guess is to keep complaining until those making rules decide there is more than one way to do things.
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Re: Them damCan Regs.

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Sep 05, 2011 4:20 pm

It's funny how anecdotal stuff is great if you agree with it. I've seen pics and heard firsthand accounts of a number of Ursaks torn up by persistent black bears in the Sierra. Some of those are posted here on this forum. Lady at a backpacking store wouldn't sell me one because she found out I backpack in the Sierra - she didn't want to get another one returned torn up.

Yet it works fine?? as good as a canister? :confused: Yeah. I'll stick with the canister.
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Re: Them damCan Regs.

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Mon Sep 05, 2011 5:34 pm

AlmostThere wrote:I've seen pics and heard firsthand accounts of a number of Ursaks torn up by persistent black bears in the Sierra. Some of those are posted here on this forum.

I actually have never read anything on this forum about a firsthand Ursack failure, nor have I seen any pictures (does not mean there are none). But there ARE these accounts:
http://www.ursack.com/ursack-fieldtests.htm
I have seen firsthand accounts and talked to people who have had bears work on their Ursacks, and no failures. There HAS been failures in the past with the older bags, then again there has been can failures too. So what. A few failures here and there will not add up to wholesale bear habituation.
Then again, many Ursack "failures" in the past were never documented very well nor stories checked out, and there are people out there with a vested interest in the Ursack failing.
All in all, modern Ursacks are as good as cans, tested and proven, and the failure rate of cans and Ursacks are low enough to not constitute a threat to habituating bears. YMMV.
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