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View Full Version : Bear spray when hiking into bear country yes, no, maybe?



Heroique
23-Aug-2015, 13:24
In view of this summer's fatal grizzly mauling in Yellowstone, it might be timely to determine, once and for all, the consensus about bear spray among the many wilderness-exploring LFers around here.

Maybe we'll all learn something and improve our safety in the outdoors.

Let's set aside the topic of firearms. Pretend it's not an option. I know you can do it!

The main assumption is that you're a gear-burdened LFer, hiking into bear country Ursus americanus and/or Ursus horribilis. Day hike, overnight, or extended stay.

Useful tips or recommendations from those who bring it? (BTW, do you realize just how incredibly rare bear attacks are?)

Or thoughts from those who are skeptical or scoff at it? (What, pray tell, do you have to lose by bringing it?)

If it "depends," what factors contribute to your decision?

-----
For the record, Im a canister-carrying member of the "It's always with me" party. :cool:

138804

Leszek Vogt
23-Aug-2015, 13:59
There have been some strange incidences w/bears. I only carry a canister when I indulge in a hike more than few hundred yards from a vehicle. If the surrounding view is way open, I'll likely leave it in the vehicle. Much depends on what sorts of area one is in. In the few recent trips to AK, I've only taken the canister about 1/2 dozen times w/me. Areas such as rivers and lakes are likely a magnet to a bear; therefore, I tend to take the canister. If it's a thicker brush and I feel in exploratory mood....I'll take the canister.

Maybe not the most recent incident (as an example), but a woman was jogging on Elmendorf-Richardson military base (in Anchorage) and was mauled by a bear. She survived, but even playing "dead" does not guarantee how the animal will react. Ha, one would have thought that's a relatively "safe" area.

Overall, I think it's a personal decision...whether one decides to carry such canister.

Les

Heroique
23-Aug-2015, 14:23
Les, that's a useful comment about "thicker brush" – which offers greater potential for surprise encounters than open country.

Just for background, here's the story about Yellowstone's grizzly attack from the NP's web site:

http://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/news/15056.htm

Quick summary:
--The lone hiker (Lance Crosby, age 63) did not have bear spray.
--This was near Elephant Back Loop Trail and Natural Bridge Trail.
--Crosby was partially consumed and his body cached away from the trail.
--The grizzly sow responsible for the attack was captured and euthanized.
--Her two cubs are being processed for a new life in a zoo.

Note that Yellowstone NP advises visitors to always carry bear spray, and hike in groups of three or more.

John Kasaian
23-Aug-2015, 16:13
What about siriracha loving bears? That might lead to a...uhhh.... situation.

Bill Burk
23-Aug-2015, 16:52
I haven't carried bear spray or bells yet. But if the ranger says I should, I would. Lighter than a shotgun and sounds like accidents aren't lethal.

Greg Miller
23-Aug-2015, 17:02
Only in grizzly country. Totally unnecessary for black bear in the lower 48.

Kirk Gittings
23-Aug-2015, 17:07
Only in grizzly country. Totally unnecessary for black bear in the lower 48.

Good point.

John Kasaian
23-Aug-2015, 17:22
Only in grizzly country. Totally unnecessary for black bear in the lower 48.
I agree.
Then something like this happens
http://abc30.com/news/man-fights-off-bear-near-yosemite-in-midpines/927205/
The attack probably had something to due to the drought here, I'm thinking.
Black Bears have never caused a problem for me but I follow the "rule of thumb" which is, if I can cover the bear with my thumb, that's about as close as I care to get.

Heroique
23-Aug-2015, 17:46
Some may be curious about the cost, weight, spray distance, and spray time for these canisters. The "Counter Assault" brand (seen in post #1, available from REI) comes in two sizes w/ these specs:

8.1 oz./230 grams – $45
Spray distance: 32 feet
Spray time: 7.2 sec.

10.2 oz./290 grams – $55
Spray distance: 30 feet
Spray time: 9.2 sec.

One might ask, "Why pay $10 more for (merely) two additional seconds of spray?" As I mentioned once, I'd go with it. If you accidentally corner or surprise a bear, and he's angry about it, that's the cheapest $10 you'll ever spend. (I imagine this is what happened to the Yellowstone hiker, who didn't have bear spray.)

I have the optional holster for my belt. When walking on the trail, I practice "finding" the canister, pulling it from the holster, removing the white safety tab, and aiming it (all in a hurry). You want these actions to be second nature when it counts – though chances are overwhelming that you'll never have to use the canister. Ever.

-----
I even imagine myself watching an angry grizzly approach me, head lowered, teeth snapping, 70 feet away, 60 feet, 50 feet, 40 feet – remembering the canister works best from 30 feet or less. (And just where is the wind coming from?) Good "shot discipline" also requires nerves of steel!

AtlantaTerry
24-Aug-2015, 01:19
Even though I was born in Montana, I have been a city dweller most of my life.

So with that said, would someone please explain to me why it was necessary to kill the mother bear. Wasn't she most likely defending her cubs and/or territory? After all, he was invading her territory, it's not like she was seeking him out.

Yes, the man's body was partially consumed but can't it be assumed that was a natural thing for the bears to do with a dead body?

TXFZ1
24-Aug-2015, 03:34
Even though I was born in Montana, I have been a city dweller most of my life.

So with that said, would someone please explain to me why it was necessary to kill the mother bear. Wasn't she most likely defending her cubs and/or territory? After all, he was invading her territory, it's not like she was seeking him out.

Yes, the man's body was partially consumed but can't it be assumed that was a natural thing for the bears to do with a dead body?

From the link, bear do not usually eat the corpse when defending their cubs. She not only ate but she covered the remains in order to return and finish.

David

Drew Wiley
24-Aug-2015, 08:36
The poll doesn't differentiate between black bears and grizzlies. But in Yellowstone, you have about a fifty times greater likelihood of getting killed by a bison than a bear. "Bison spray" or just leave your red darkcloth at home? When my hiking pal accidentally shot himself in the back with his bear spray last year, I kidded him that it would lead to him being eaten by bears who prefer Mex Tex cuisine. He never did manage to wash that stuff completely out of his pack. It still stings. So he had to throw the pack away and buy a new one. I've never bought a can of bear spray myself, but generally hike in black bear country anyway. I never worry about them. Family members who frequently travel in Alaska wilderness prefer a 12 ga shotgun.

vdonovan2000
24-Aug-2015, 08:40
Only in grizzly country. Totally unnecessary for black bear in the lower 48.

I agree 100%. I've done many many backcountry trips in the California Sierras and encountered a hundred or so bears over the years. Never had a problem.

Iluvmyviewcam
24-Aug-2015, 10:01
OP, sure get it. Pepper spray alone is not good. I've used it on attack animals and it hardly phases em. Bear spray is what you need...if you want to continue fondling your cams for years to come. It is the cheapest insurance you can get.

Drew Wiley
24-Aug-2015, 11:54
One significant factor which is changing the behavior of grizzlies in the northern Rockies is the catastrophic failure of the whitebark pine nut crop, which these bears depend on to fatten up. These trees are dying en masse due to the pine beetle epidemic, itself caused by climate warming and unusually warm winters, which are not killing these beetles off. Young males grizzlies in particular are being forced off territories held by stronger males due to food shortages, and are
tending to wander farther afield from their traditional Yellowstone ecosystem. Incidents with pets and livestock at lower altitudes are becoming more frequent.

Heroique
24-Aug-2015, 12:30
To put earlier (carefree) remarks about black bears into perspective, let's talk brutal facts.

Since 2010 in U.S. + Canada:
--Human deaths by black bear: 6
--Human deaths by brown bear (grizzly): 11

These numbers should cause one to reflect that black bears, despite their comparative docility, can also be deadly.

They also underscore the extreme rarity of fatal bear attacks of any kind.

-----
Interesting note: the most recent death by polar bear was in 1999.

bob carnie
24-Aug-2015, 12:31
Drew - you would be able to out talk the bear.. no need for anything else.


The poll doesn't differentiate between black bears and grizzlies. But in Yellowstone, you have about a fifty times greater likelihood of getting killed by a bison than a bear. "Bison spray" or just leave your red darkcloth at home? When my hiking pal accidentally shot himself in the back with his bear spray last year, I kidded him that it would lead to him being eaten by bears who prefer Mex Tex cuisine. He never did manage to wash that stuff completely out of his pack. It still stings. So he had to throw the pack away and buy a new one. I've never bought a can of bear spray myself, but generally hike in black bear country anyway. I never worry about them. Family members who frequently travel in Alaska wilderness prefer a 12 ga shotgun.

Drew Wiley
24-Aug-2015, 12:43
Deaths due to cell phone distraction alone last year, thousands. Deaths due to domestic dog attacks per year in this country, hundreds. Bob, my mom learned about grizzlies. This was years ago, when I was little. She was munching a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while trying to snap a photo of a roadside grizzly with
her little box Brownie camera. It deftly pulled that sandwich right out of her hands. There's something quite memorable about seeing a set of three inch long claws
swiping a few inches from your face. I was about a foot away. Their dexterity is amazing.

vdonovan2000
24-Aug-2015, 13:28
To put earlier (carefree) remarks about black bears into perspective, let's talk brutal facts.

Since 2010 in U.S. + Canada:
--Human deaths by black bear: 6
--Human deaths by brown bear (grizzly): 11

These numbers should cause one to reflect that black bears, despite their comparative docility, can also be deadly.

They also underscore the extreme rarity of fatal bear attacks of any kind.

-----
Interesting note: the most recent death by polar bear was in 1999.

I think you have to look at these numbers relative to the number of human/bear encounters. There are many more black bears in the US and they live not only in the wild but also in and around populated areas. There are far fewer grizzlies and most live in remote areas, so there are far fewer encounters with humans. But, point taken, black bears can be dangerous too if you are not careful around them.

Greg Miller
24-Aug-2015, 14:06
I agree.
Then something like this happens
http://abc30.com/news/man-fights-off-bear-near-yosemite-in-midpines/927205/
The attack probably had something to due to the drought here, I'm thinking.
Black Bears have never caused a problem for me but I follow the "rule of thumb" which is, if I can cover the bear with my thumb, that's about as close as I care to get.

Key factor here is a bear in a neighborhood habituated to eating our of trash cans. That's a recipe for a bad ending (almost always for the bear). Very different than a black bear encounter in the back country.

ic-racer
24-Aug-2015, 14:18
To put earlier (carefree) remarks about black bears into perspective, let's talk brutal facts.

Since 2010 in U.S. + Canada:
--Human deaths by black bear: 6
--Human deaths by brown bear (grizzly): 11

These numbers should cause one to reflect that black bears, despite their comparative docility, can also be deadly.

They also underscore the extreme rarity of fatal bear attacks of any kind.

-----
Interesting note: the most recent death by polar bear was in 1999.

97 deaths from West Nile Virus in USA lower 48 in 2014 (mosquito bite). I'll carry mosquito repellent and stay out of bear country.

Greg Miller
24-Aug-2015, 14:19
I think you have to look at these numbers relative to the number of human/bear encounters. There are many more black bears in the US and they live not only in the wild but also in and around populated areas. There are far fewer grizzlies and most live in remote areas, so there are far fewer encounters with humans. But, point taken, black bears can be dangerous too if you are not careful around them.

Good points. Also need to consider that Moose are far mar dangerous than bears. And how many people carry Moose spray? ;)

Look at NJ with the most dense bear population in the country (total population of 2,500 bears in the state) and the most dense human population. Lots of bears close to lots of stupid humans who put their trash out. Perfect scenario for bear/human conflict. One person died from a bear attack in 2014. The previous death was in 1852. New York,also with a very large black bear population has had exactly one death (a baby left unattended in a stroller in the Catskills). That added to the number of personal close encounters I have had with black bears over the past 25 years, leaves me with little fear of a black bear attack. Could it happen? Yes. But there's a lot of other things that are much likely to kill me than that. SO I;d rather carry a fire starter than a can of bear spray.

Heroique
24-Aug-2015, 14:29
Any "close-encounter" stories from people who carry (or ridicule) bear spray?

Only once have I surprised a bear at very close range – a mature black bear in the North Cascades of Wash. state (which is also grizzly country the closer you get to Canada). Exploring a creek bank, I rounded a granite boulder and surprised the bear, 10 feet away, on the other side. The bear immediately stood up, and in the same motion, twisted around and darted away in a panic. If I had cornered it, or if the bear had been a sow w/ cubs, I might have used my spray for the first time. And who knows, maybe the last.

There's nothing like a real experience to make statistics sink into oblivion, no matter what they suggest. Which is to say, I carry bear spray to insure myself against the nearly 0% likelihood of ever needing it (again). The psychological benefit is deeply felt, even if not quite real.

Greg Miller
24-Aug-2015, 14:45
Any "close-encounter" stories from people who carry (or ridicule) bear spray?

Only once have I surprised a bear at very close range – a mature black bear in the North Cascades of Wash. state (which is also grizzly country the closer you get to Canada). Exploring a creek bank, I rounded a granite boulder and surprised the bear, 10 feet away, on the other side. The bear immediately stood up, and in the same motion, twisted around and darted away in a panic. If I had cornered it, or if the bear had been a sow w/ cubs, I might have used my spray for the first time. And who knows, maybe the last.

There's nothing like a real experience to make statistics sink into oblivion, no matter what they suggest. Which is to say, I carry bear spray to insure myself against the nearly 0% odds of ever needing it (again). The psychological benefit is felt, even if not quite real.

I'm also going to downplay the sow with cubs scare tactics. i have had several close encounters with a mother bear and cubs over the years, and never had the mother show any concern. I was as close as 6 feet (on two separate days) from a mother bear in Garnet Canyon in the Tetons and she could not have cared less. There were three of us on the trail with a cliff on the left. Momma bear was on our right, so we had no choice but to walk past her to get to our climbing camp. She was not the least bit concerned with our presence. Not a momma bear story, but I was hiking our of a park at dusk with my female model. We spotted a bear walking towards us (it was sniffing the ground for food). I let it get about 30 feet from us before I let it know we were there by talking to it. It immediately turned around and ran away fast. But generally its only the one year old males that have been kicked out of the den by their mothers who are so skittish. Most adult bears will check you out, and then go back to foraging. They won;t run and they won't attack. They just want to do what bears do. That's my personal experience with more close encounters than i can remember. I even had a neighborhood bear that lived in the woods behind my house. It would kill the occasional fawn, but never bothered the little kids playing in the neighborhood back yards.

Plus 99% of black bear "attacks" are bluff charges where they will scare the bejeesus out of you and then retreat at the last second and run away. It's really uncommon for a black bear to "attacK' and much more uncommon for the bear truly attack. Yes, people get scared when they unexpectedly encounter a black bear. But black bear encounters aren't really that uncommon the the extremely low number of true attacks validates how low the true risk is. I'll bet most eople carrying bear spray would be too scared to even deploy in a true attack scenario. Whatever fear there is of black bears in the lower 48 is largely unfounded.

Drew Wiley
24-Aug-2015, 15:34
I've had black bears all around my campsites in Sierra backcountry in SEKI feeding on berries all nite and scratching trees, just a few yards away. Never bothered any of us. And I've taken hundreds of such trips. On the other hand, I have a pal who liked to spend time up in the canyons of northern Yosemite outside Hetchy, and the bears were utter pests. Always had to hang his food in a tree. What's the difference? Those Yosemite bears were descended from Yogi bear types in Yos Valley who were habituated to handouts and pilfering garbage. It became a Yogi Bear culture. They teach their young the same habits. In SEKI, a bad bear gets run off, and if he comes back, gets shot. Now some of those bad Yos bears are getting deported into LA Natl Forest, where they're breaking into cabins, or now, due to drought and heat, heading into the burbs and jumping in people's swimming pools. Can't blame 'em.

Heroique
24-Aug-2015, 15:54
There were three of us on the trail with a cliff on the left. Momma bear was on our right, so we had no choice but to walk past her to get to our climbing camp. She was not the least bit concerned with our presence.

I have to ask, was there no choice to retreat and return a little later?

Better, did you ask her how she'd feel if you walked past her and her cubs?

Here's a piece from Yellowstone NP titled: "Reacting to a bear encounter."

Some unique tips about bear spray too:

http://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/nature/bearreact.htm

Greg, you know I'm mostly joking, but I think the ranger will want to have a talk with you before you head down the trail. :cool:


Parent bears teach their young the same habits.

Yes, this is why the two Yellowstone grizzly cubs whose mother killed and ate Lance Crosby this summer are on their way to a zoo for the rest of their lives – and never back into the wild. Things might have been different had Crosby simply carried bear spray. Everyone might have survived and lived natural lives.

Greg Miller
24-Aug-2015, 19:05
I have to ask, was there no choice to retreat and return a little later?

Better, did you ask her how she'd feel if you walked past her and her cubs?

Here's a piece from Yellowstone NP titled: "Reacting to a bear encounter."

Some unique tips about bear spray too:

http://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/nature/bearreact.htm

Greg, you know I'm mostly joking, but I think the ranger will want to have a talk with you before you head down the trail. :cool:


We did not act foolishly. When we saw the mother bear (we didn't see the cubs rights away). We stopped and calmly observed. We then saw the cubs. We probably waited and watched for about 15 minutes. Given the terrain, our options were abandon our week long climbing trip or continue on the trail. The mother bear knew we were there and glanced our way occasionally but showed no signs of distress. We moved forward a bit at a time watching for signs of distress. We saw none. SHE behaved pretty much like most of the other many bear encounters I have had. Black bears have pretty obvious signs of distress or aggressiveness. But we saw none. There was never a point where we felt in danger or felt we were stressing the mother. Even at our closest position to her, she never showed a sign of distress. We all had significant experience with close-up black bear encounters in the backcountry, so we were confident with what we did. I would not recommend this approach for anyone else, especially for anyone without the real-world experience to recognize bear behaviors. Those ranger videos have to be put together for the lowest common denominator. There are always people with no common sense, that dot hings like put their 3 year old daughter on the back of a bison on Yellowstone. But we had experience, evaluated the situation, were patient, and made our choice. And again, how many people have been killed by a mother black bear with cubs? I'm to saying there is no danger. But the the public impression of the danger from black bears is seriously overblown. I've personally startled a large number of bears just by walking out the front door of my house to gett he newspaper int he morning.

A huge number of people in northern New Jersey have daily encounters with black bears. Every spring there are thousands of back bears with cubs. Every spring the one year old males get kicked out of the den and go in search of a new home. Yet despite all these bears, and mama bears with cubs, around a large human population, there has been one human death in over 150 years. So, yes, be smart and recognize the risk of danger, but also realize how infinitesimally small that danger is worry about other things than a black bear attack.

Leszek Vogt
25-Aug-2015, 00:56
http://www.nnsl.com/frames/newspapers/1997-08/aug22_97bear.html

***The description of this incident is rather raw***

Greg, sometimes there is no good reason what an animal might or might not do. In this case it appears that the malnourished bear....and who would have thought ? All the black bears I've encountered were quite docile and would rather run away than to deal with silly humans. This incident was quite a surprise to me, since I went through that spot at least twice/yr (for 3yrs)...back in the early 90's.

Les

Wayne
25-Aug-2015, 04:49
This is the result of not bringing bear spray. This bear, and more importantly the man, would both be alive today if he had brought bear spray. So if you venture into grizzly country and won't bring it for yourself, bring it for the bear that will die if you are attacked without it.






Even though I was born in Montana, I have been a city dweller most of my life.

So with that said, would someone please explain to me why it was necessary to kill the mother bear. Wasn't she most likely defending her cubs and/or territory? After all, he was invading her territory, it's not like she was seeking him out.

Yes, the man's body was partially consumed but can't it be assumed that was a natural thing for the bears to do with a dead body?

goamules
25-Aug-2015, 05:33
This thread should have been titled "I use Bear Spray, and will Defend it's Use to the Death!" Every year the BEARS! What WILL we DO? threads start. Often by the same people.

But seriously, there are thousands of man to bear encounters every year that don't lead to anything. Except a good memory of getting to see a bear. Many of us hikers and outdoorsmen can relate to seeing a bear in the wilderness, woods, or increasingly, neighborhoods. And enjoying the experience.

According to a bear attack book I read, the biggest deterrent to being attacked is to be in a group of 3 or more people. That's why bear hunters use a pack of hounds, not just one. A bear doesn't know how to handle more than one potential threat, and runs (often). Most attacks are on one person, or a "group" that actually becomes separated.

From our 1600s founding in this country, people knew that if you wander the woods alone, you are in danger. From many, many things, with no help. Americans were comfortable walking 20 miles in a day if they needed to. They didn't freeze to death, have heatstroke, or get killed by wolves or bears 2 hours from their "cars". They traveled, worked, and lived in bear (and Indian) country. If you have to be alone, you carry a big stick of some sort. Yes, I do. But mine is a firestick, not fire in a can. Longer range, more uses.

Jac@stafford.net
25-Aug-2015, 05:46
Garrett: "A bear doesn't know how to handle more than one potential threat, and runs (often). "

I can no longer find it, but there was a video of three Great Pyrenees harassing a Grizzly until it ran away in frustration. One Pyr would bite him on the butt, then the bear would turn and the next Pyr did the same, another would bite his leg, on and on. The dogs were not hurt, the bear was okay.

That's the way Pyrs work together. I miss mine.

goamules
25-Aug-2015, 05:51
Exactly. For 300 years, people did three things right: Weren't alone, had dogs, carried a gun. And rode horses or mules.

Today, you have:

"At the time of the attack, the trail was closed, and the public was told to avoid it."
"...didn't return to her cabin following a solo fishing outing..."
"...had been feeding bears for a decade, and was repeatedly warned by wildlife officials...."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fatal_bear_attacks_in_North_America

Very interesting read of ALL the fatal bear attacks. Many were stupid mistakes, like being alone in Grizzly country. Some were obviously determined attacks though, like bears entering cabins, or climbing trees to get people (that again...were alone mostly).

Old-N-Feeble
25-Aug-2015, 06:04
For those who haven't seen this...

138865

Drew Wiley
25-Aug-2015, 08:23
Hmmm ... I've hiked alone in the woods most of my life. Rattlesnakes, bears, cougars, no problem. The most dangerous species out there is armed with guns
and travels with companions, all drunken. I like to avoid ticks too. They kill more people than bears. Our ferocious Calif grizzlies were nearly extinct over a hundred years ago, with the last one dying around 1927. Our last neighborhood story was from around 1905, when one of our local mtn road crew foreman was
a little kid at the dinner table up on a cabin in the hill. The mom was getting impatient because the father was still out in the woods, allegedly chopping wood.
He finally staggered through the cabin door all bloody with ripped up clothes. He had been charged by a big grizzly, got one shot into him, but had to finish off the
beast with a buck knife. The bear died and he lived, with plenty of scars. And of course, he got thoroughly chewed out for showing up to dinner late!

Heroique
25-Aug-2015, 10:25
He had to finish off the beast with a buck knife. The bear died and he lived, with plenty of scars.

One naturally asks whether bear spray would have saved lives and prevented injuries. ;^)

138886



Many were stupid mistakes, like being alone in Grizzly country.

I strenuously disagree.

This is tantamount to saying one is stupid for exploring Yellowstone alone. Or Glacier. Or North Cascades.

Henry Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, Edward Abbey – all are rolling in their graves.

Greg Miller
25-Aug-2015, 10:31
One naturally asks whether bear spray would have saved lives and prevented injuries. ;^)

138886


In 1905? Doubtful.

Today? Yes. In Grizzly country.

TXFZ1
25-Aug-2015, 10:40
I'm thinking the Bear Spray is getting kinda deep in this thread.

David

Drew Wiley
25-Aug-2015, 12:37
Just place all this in perspective, please. Humans are the ultimate predators, and we've been hunting bears for tens of thousands of years. They have a right to
defend themselves.

Jerry Bodine
25-Aug-2015, 12:47
Grizzly likes to have fun too, not always out to harass/attack folks.

http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2015/08/25/hilarious-video-shows-grizzly-bear-rolling-down-hill-at-denali-national-park/?intcmp=hphz17

goamules
25-Aug-2015, 14:53
My statement "Many were stupid mistakes, like being alone in Grizzly country."


...

I strenuously disagree.

This is tantamount to saying one is stupid for exploring Yellowstone alone. Or Glacier. Or North Cascades.

Henry Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, Edward Abbey – all are rolling in their graves.

Um...none of those three were in areas with Grizzly bears. The last Grizzly was killed in the Gila in the early 1930s. None on Walden Pond, none at Arches.

However, I substantiate my claim by the numbers killed on the link I provided, and the books I've read. Your chances of being attacked by either type of bear greatly increase if you are alone. Since a grizzly can kill you in 500 miliseconds, I wouldn't go into their territory alone. You want to see stupid, solitary behavior, look at Timothy Treadwell.....

Drew Wiley
25-Aug-2015, 15:23
One of the most infamous attacks in Glacier NP was when two people rounded a blind corner on a trail and the mama bear was right there, with two cubs. They
didn't even have time to aim the pepper spray. Around the same time, three other people were attacked at night sleeping. The latter bear was downright grumpy due to eating garbage and having bit of bottle glass stuck in its gums. That set a Park precedent about garbage rules. A bear with an attitude isn't afraid of three people any more than one. Tim Treadwell was a local hippie who went north to tempt fate. Rolling the dice, time and again. My favorite line in that movie was the Aleut native who stated how they had lived in harmony with bears for centuries. The bears knew not to cross the line into their world, and the Aleut knew not to cross over into theirs; but Treadwell thought he knew better, and did cross over, and suffered the consequences.

goamules
25-Aug-2015, 15:27
True, there are some cases when multiple people still get attacked. There are some cases when people with pepper spray are attacked. So?

MOST people killed, in the past, oh....100 years or so....have been alone. Sometimes they are suddenly alone, as everyone else runs in different directions!

goamules
25-Aug-2015, 15:31
Here, let me make it easy. The data from BLACK Bear fatal attackes in the 2010s, updated up to Sept 2014. Bold mine.

1. Patel was about to begin hiking with four friends in Apshawa Preserve when they met a man and a woman at the entrance who told them there was a bear nearby and advised them to turn around.[7] They continued on, found the bear, and Patel and another hiker took photos. They turned and began walking away, but the bear followed them. The hikers ran in different directions, and found that Patel was missing when they regrouped. Authorities found Patel's body after searching for two hours. A black bear found in the vicinity was killed.[8] According to the State Department of Environmental Protection, this was the first fatal bear attack on human in New Jersey on record.[8] - ALONE

2. Weafer, a Suncor worker was attacked at the remote North Steepbank oil sands mine site while walking back to work after a trip to the washroom. Efforts by co-workers to scare off the bear were unsuccessful. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police shot and killed the bear upon arrival. A preliminary investigation determined that the attack was predatory.[9] - Not Alone

3. Weaver was attacked by a black bear while walking back to his cabin on George Lake, according to his wife, who was able to flee inside the cabin and was uninjured. A 230 lb (104.3 kg) adult male black bear on the scene was killed by troopers and found to have some of Weaver's remains in his stomach.[10] - ALONE at the end

4. Hollingsworth was attacked by a 250 lb (113.4 kg) black bear while walking her dog at a country club. Nearly a month later and after eleven surgeries, she died from a massive brain hemorrhage, which doctors believe was a result of the attack. The bear was tracked, shot, and killed.[11] - ALONE

5. Adolph's remains were found by police dogs after she was reported missing. She was an elderin the Xaxli'p First Nation. There was evidence that bears fed on Adolph's remains, and tried to enter her house. An autopsy confirmed that she died from a bear attack. Five bears suspected of being involved were killed by conservation officers, and DNA tests confirmed that one of the dead bears killed Adolph.[12] - ALONE

6. Kandra was a bear caretaker on property that kept exotic pets. The bear was out of its cage for feeding. Prior to the attack, the property's owner had his license to exhibit animals revoked, but was still allowed to keep the animals on his property.[13] - ALONE

I'll put the grizzlys next.

Jac@stafford.net
25-Aug-2015, 15:34
Just place all this in perspective, please. Humans are the ultimate predators, and we've been hunting bears for tens of thousands of years. They have a right to
defend themselves.

I believe in the right to arm bears!

goamules
25-Aug-2015, 15:38
During the 2010s, up to Aug of this year, the tally of Grizzly Bear fatal attacks is:

Alone: 8
Couple: 2
Group* of 3 or more: 1
Note that no attacks have ever been recorded against groups of six or more.

I say again, you stay in a group of 3 or more people, with dogs, and on horse or muleback, what do you have to worry about? Or, you can carry your little can of pepper spray, and use the "hope and pray" method, as you commune with nature. Look at it this way, when they used to tiger hunt in India, they would do it from elephant back. Hunters didn't tiptoe alone through the tall grass with man eating tigers. Why should they with Grizzlys? Now black bear habitat, 98% of where people hike, I won't say you must hike in groups. Because hiking alone is a joy to be experienced. Take the pepper spray, a gun, or just your chances.


*(a campground attack, but people out of sight in tents in the dark aren't really a "group" are they?)

John Kasaian
25-Aug-2015, 15:42
I can no longer find it, but there was a video of three Great Pyrenees harassing a Grizzly until it ran away in frustration. One Pyr would bite him on the butt, then the bear would turn and the next Pyr did the same, another would bite his leg, on and on. The dogs were not hurt, the bear was okay.

That's the way Pyrs work together. I miss mine.
The Lewis and Clark Voyage of Discovery used Newfoundland for bear medicine. IIRC the dog was so valued that when Indians kidnapped him the expedition came to halt until the pooch could be tracked down and recovered.
There is a lot to be said for dogs.

goamules
25-Aug-2015, 15:53
I agree, they really are man's best friend. My dog (Saluki) was giving an alarm bark at the back door just this morning. I went to see what it was, and a giant snake had crawled up on the back porch, 2 feet away from the open screen door. Thanks buddy!

Heroique
25-Aug-2015, 16:18
Um...none of those three were in areas with Grizzly bears.

Looks like two points have flown over your head, so I thought it would be helpful to state them for the thread.

1) A principal theme of Thoreau, Leopold, Abbey is the importance of experiencing wilderness alone, no matter its real or perceived risks.
2) The risk of being attacked and killed by a black, brown or polar bear in the wilderness is statistically negligible over any historical time period.

I agree that solitary individuals are more likely to be attacked than groups, but this has no bearing on the extreme rarity of lethal bear attacks. Nor does the poor wilderness behavior of any particular victim who was eaten. I think the bear stories you're reading, true as they might be, are making you see goblins.

So one might ask why my personal choice is to always carry bear spray, grizzly habitat and/or black bear habitat. I refer you to post #23 for my explanation. ;^)

Greg Miller
25-Aug-2015, 17:07
Of those 6 black bear deaths, only one was in the wilderness where you could expect someone to have considered carrying bear spray. So one death may have been prevented by carrying bear spray. Now we don't know how many people prevented death in an actual attack by using bear spray against a black bear. But we know that the total attacks by black bear is extremely rare, and we know that the vast majority of people do not carry bear spray in black bear country (excluding areas where grizzlies are also present). We also know that moose are far more dangerous than black bears, but we don't see people getting silly over preventing moose attacks.

Anyone see the video this week of the mama bear and 5 cubs frolicking in the back yard swimming pool in NJ? And nobody died ;) This looks to be a bumper acorn year, so I'm expecting large black bear litters next spring in my area.

Jerry Bodine
25-Aug-2015, 18:12
Question: Do grizzlies LIKE pepper? :)

Greg Miller
25-Aug-2015, 18:14
Question: Do grizzlies LIKE pepper? :)

Yes, they do. So if you are thinking about dousing yourself in bear spray as a pre-emptive measure, that would be a mistake...

goamules
25-Aug-2015, 18:32
Looks like two points have flown over your head, so I thought it would be helpful to state them for the thread.

1) A principal theme of Thoreau, Leopold, Abbey is the importance of experiencing wilderness alone, no matter its real or perceived risks.
2) The risk of being attacked and killed by a black, brown or polar bear in the wilderness is statistically negligible over any historical time period.

I agree that solitary individuals are more likely to be attacked than groups, but this has no bearing on the extreme rarity of lethal bear attacks. Nor does the poor wilderness behavior of any particular victim who was eaten. I think the bear stories you're reading, true as they might be, are making you see goblins.

So one might ask why my personal choice is to always carry bear spray, grizzly habitat and/or black bear habitat. I refer you to post #23 for my explanation. ;^)

Exactly why did you start this poll and thread then, pray tell? Nevermind, we got it. A personal crusade for bear spray and hiking alone. Knock yourself out. I'll help you pack your pack...with a little salmon in it.

Setting a long overdue to IGNORE....ready.....execute.

Heroique
25-Aug-2015, 18:36
Yes, they do. So if you are thinking about dousing yourself in bear spray as a pre-emptive measure, that would be a mistake...

That reminds me of the directions on my canister.

One warning states: "Do not spray this product on objects, tents, or humans; such use has no deterrent effect on bears."

I would have written it this way: "Do not spray this product on objects, tents, or humans; such use has a "Dinner's served!" effect on bears." ;^)

Think of a restaurant waiter putting a dish of fragrant pepper steak on your table!

Heroique
25-Aug-2015, 18:55
Exactly why did you start this poll and thread then, pray tell?

It's all in the first two sentences: to determine a consensus about bear spray, and maybe improve our safety in the outdoors.

As for a consensus, it looks like "Yes" and "No" are winning an equal number of votes in the poll.

Unless one pulls ahead in the next 24 hours or so, we might learn there is no consensus among the wilderness LFers here.

-----
BTW, I have to add one more quote from my canister's entertaining label: "Not for use on humans." I've heard of situations where the opposite might be the best use – but lucky me, I've never actually been in one.

Drew Wiley
26-Aug-2015, 08:50
Talking statistics in fatal bear attacks is largely meaningless because they're so rare. By contrast, the city of SF alone averages about 500 reported dogbite incidents a year, serious enough to require hospital treatment. Fatalities in this immediate area from people's pets per year exceed a decade worth of bear incidents in the entire continental US. The most dangerous breed: Pekinese. They were bred as mean little guard dogs and one year killed six toddlers locally.
Bear or cougars? Been around em my whole life. I have no intention of bothering with spray in black bear country. If I get opportunities to hike up in Glacier or
the Canadian Rockies, or Alaska - grizz habitat - I will be toting spray.

tgtaylor
26-Aug-2015, 09:05
Black Bear? No spray. Grizzly Bear? I go armed.

Thomas

Willie
26-Aug-2015, 10:37
Best use of bear spray is on people who decide your gear should be their gear.

Darin Boville
26-Aug-2015, 14:12
uuuuhhhh....I think #1 and #3 are clearly attacks on a person while NOT alone, maybe #2 also. Of course the bear singles out a single target from that group. They aren't ninjas! If you go with the definition you used for "alone" then all attacks, always, will be "alone" even if bears start attacking at shopping malls on the day after Thanksgiving! :)

--Darin


Here, let me make it easy. The data from BLACK Bear fatal attackes in the 2010s, updated up to Sept 2014. Bold mine.

1. Patel was about to begin hiking with four friends in Apshawa Preserve when they met a man and a woman at the entrance who told them there was a bear nearby and advised them to turn around.[7] They continued on, found the bear, and Patel and another hiker took photos. They turned and began walking away, but the bear followed them. The hikers ran in different directions, and found that Patel was missing when they regrouped. Authorities found Patel's body after searching for two hours. A black bear found in the vicinity was killed.[8] According to the State Department of Environmental Protection, this was the first fatal bear attack on human in New Jersey on record.[8] - ALONE

2. Weafer, a Suncor worker was attacked at the remote North Steepbank oil sands mine site while walking back to work after a trip to the washroom. Efforts by co-workers to scare off the bear were unsuccessful. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police shot and killed the bear upon arrival. A preliminary investigation determined that the attack was predatory.[9] - Not Alone

3. Weaver was attacked by a black bear while walking back to his cabin on George Lake, according to his wife, who was able to flee inside the cabin and was uninjured. A 230 lb (104.3 kg) adult male black bear on the scene was killed by troopers and found to have some of Weaver's remains in his stomach.[10] - ALONE at the end

4. Hollingsworth was attacked by a 250 lb (113.4 kg) black bear while walking her dog at a country club. Nearly a month later and after eleven surgeries, she died from a massive brain hemorrhage, which doctors believe was a result of the attack. The bear was tracked, shot, and killed.[11] - ALONE

5. Adolph's remains were found by police dogs after she was reported missing. She was an elderin the Xaxli'p First Nation. There was evidence that bears fed on Adolph's remains, and tried to enter her house. An autopsy confirmed that she died from a bear attack. Five bears suspected of being involved were killed by conservation officers, and DNA tests confirmed that one of the dead bears killed Adolph.[12] - ALONE

6. Kandra was a bear caretaker on property that kept exotic pets. The bear was out of its cage for feeding. Prior to the attack, the property's owner had his license to exhibit animals revoked, but was still allowed to keep the animals on his property.[13] - ALONE

I'll put the grizzlys next.

Drew Wiley
26-Aug-2015, 15:18
Rogue black bears are nearly always habituated to people first. Park bears used to handouts or pilfering. Bears in the burbs, accustomed to feeding on garbage or poodles. Same with rogue mtn lions. In the wild, these species, as well as North American wolves, are afraid of people. Attacks are extremely rare. Black bear subspecies in the East might be a little more bold, since they didn't have to compete with grizzlies. But they still had a lot to fear from humans. The only bears which seem to instinctively regard humans (or anything warm-blooded) as food are polar bears. The other species are omnivorous. People entered North
American back when there were wolves, bear, and lions a lot bigger than anything today. Guess who won that fight? Those critters are all extinct. We should give a little elbow room to the wildlife that's left. The more yappy poodles that get eaten, the better.

Two23
26-Aug-2015, 18:21
I was out in Yellowstone the first two weeks of August, walking around by myself at night taking shots. (I love night shots!) I didn't have any bear spray. Before we left I thought about taking my pistol along, but my wife was laughing at me because it's a .22 Ruger Single Six revolver. Anyway, I was out three nights until 2 am, shooting the geysors under a moonless night. I kept telling my wife I had two other guys who were going along, just to get her off my back about it. I laughed and said, "Lions and tigers and bears, OH MY!" I didn't worry about it. I'm used to be out alone at night--it's what I do.

I got up before my wife and went to breakfast at our hotel, Old Faithful Inn. I placed an order and picked up a local paper. Imagine my surprise when I saw a story on the front page about a guy who was hiking alone in the DAY TIME, and he got et! :eek: :eek: :eek: I read it and then ditched the paper so my wife wouldn't find it. We'll be back out to Yellowstone in a year or two, and I will be taking some bear spray!


Kent in SD

goamules
27-Aug-2015, 06:12
I took a few short walks in Yellowstone when I was there 20 years ago. Scared the heck out of me, there were Grizzly everywhere. It's like America was when Lewis and Clark did their exploration, and they learned fast how dangerous Grizzly bear were. So they carried big guns, dogs, and stayed in groups. Yellowstone is a place where you better carry something.

Jcradford
27-Aug-2015, 07:12
Why kill the mother bear? I'm no expert, but what I heard from rangers is they are forever imprinted with the kill of a human and will seek out further food sources. There are some that are just whack jobs, and literally hunt humans -- which I witnessed in Denali Park ... a hiking couple hopped our bus to further avoid the bear that circled them over miles. Possibly a prior experience, or just a fruitcake bear ... who hasn't eaten in awhile. Denali is tougher on bears .... no salmon.

John Kasaian
27-Aug-2015, 07:26
The crux of the matter is do what you feel comfortable with. It won't matter until a bear attacks you anyway and if one does, you'll either discourage the beast or not. How is of little consequence.
I prefer not disturbing Yogi & Boo Boo in the first place---a Philosophy which seems to work very well in my neck of the woods---but if I were venturing into more hostile bear territory I'd take Goamule's advice given above.
But if you have confidence in spray, go for it!
My 2-centavos anyway.

Jac@stafford.net
27-Aug-2015, 07:49
Before we left I thought about taking my pistol along, but my wife was laughing at me because it's a .22 Ruger Single Six revolver.

As you know, that might irritate the bear, but it won't hurt him.

I'm reminded: Isn't it still illegal to carry a firearm in a national park? The last time my mate and I visited Glacier we entered a trail that had huge signs, one to warn of bears and another shouted, "No firearms allowed." She was struck with cognitive dissonance, and suddenly my camera felt heavy enough that we hiked back up the road.

Drew Wiley
27-Aug-2015, 08:27
My nephew camped in Denali backcountry with his family and had grizz in camp every day. Same in the Brooks Range. My cousin was married to an Aleut gal and had big Kodiak style grizz all around for years. No incidents. But don't cook bacon; and if a big bully bear comes around with an attitude, keep the shotgun close. Even grizzly incidents are fairly rare. NP's have no hunting rules, and therefore there are restrictions about guns. Look up the relevant .GOV websites. Statistically, I'd be far more worried about some gangbanger gun melee in a crowded place like Yos Valley in summer than about any black bear there. And in terms of remoter areas, a wounded bear could be far more dangerous than a healthy one. Glacier NP monitors bear activity for risk areas, based upon their feeding and breeding patterns. Still, the bears don't necessarily read and follow those reports themselves. It's often the odd bear that's a problem. And again, bear stories might make juicy press, but moose are even more dangerous. Had one of those in camp last yr myself.

Two23
27-Aug-2015, 17:44
As you know, that might irritate the bear, but it won't hurt him.

I'm reminded: Isn't it still illegal to carry a firearm in a national park? The last time my mate and I visited Glacier we entered a trail that had huge signs, one to warn of bears and another shouted, "No firearms allowed." She was struck with cognitive dissonance, and suddenly my camera felt heavy enough that we hiked back up the road.



Courts have ruled that you may have a gun if you are eligible. Reading up on it, it comes down to having a CCW permit from a state that is recognized by the host state. Wyoming does reciprocate with South Dakota, so I'd be in the clear. Although I do sometimes sling a 20 gauge shotgun on my shoulder when out late at night in mountain lion country at home, I really wasn't eager to add more weight to the bag of lenses I was already carrying in Yellowstone. I didn't think it was very likely I'd have a problem. (Plus the only pistol I own is a .22 single action revolver and I'm not eager to plunk down five hundred bucks + for something bigger I just don't feel the need for.) However, I will say that when you're out there alone at night your attitude is considerably different than it is in the daytime and you're surrounded with people. I kept on my toes, so to speak. I had checked with three different rangers that worked that area and all three said the geysor basin was generally bear free, and if I used good sense I should be OK. My efforts were rewarded with some of the most dramatic night shots I've taken in years.


Kent in SD

Jac@stafford.net
27-Aug-2015, 17:48
Courts have ruled that you may have a gun if you are eligible. Reading up on it, it comes down to having a CCW permit from a state that is recognized by the host state.\
Kent in SD

Here in Minnesota CCW means Concealed Carry which has nothing to do with open-carry. Who in the world could carry a Grisly stopping weapon concealed? It makes no sense at all in the field.

Here if you carry an unconcealed firearm you can go to jail even if you have a CCW. Concealed means it must not be evident.

We have only black bear here, and the exception is that one can carry CCW only while hunting bear. Who in god's name would carry concealed when bear hunting here is beyond comprehension unless he is bow hunting. The mind boggles.

.

Old-N-Feeble
27-Aug-2015, 17:57
Dammit!!! If a killer bear is going to eat me then his effing lips are gonna burn... DAMMIT!!

Jac@stafford.net
27-Aug-2015, 18:06
Dammit!!! If a killer bear is going to eat me then his effing lips are gonna burn... DAMMIT!!

Yeah, soak your clothes in bear spray! Seems uncomfortable, but some mad scientist could make it so.
.

Two23
27-Aug-2015, 20:49
Here in Minnesota CCW means Concealed Carry which has nothing to do with open-carry. Who in the world could carry a Grisly stopping weapon concealed? It makes no sense at all in the field.
.


There are some pretty short barreled pistols that would do the job. Would not be very nice to your future ability to hear however.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHe1f7T5qlE


Kent in SD

Alan Klein
27-Aug-2015, 20:53
Any "close-encounter" stories from people who carry (or ridicule) bear spray?

Only once have I surprised a bear at very close range a mature black bear in the North Cascades of Wash. state (which is also grizzly country the closer you get to Canada). Exploring a creek bank, I rounded a granite boulder and surprised the bear, 10 feet away, on the other side. The bear immediately stood up, and in the same motion, twisted around and darted away in a panic. If I had cornered it, or if the bear had been a sow w/ cubs, I might have used my spray for the first time. And who knows, maybe the last.

There's nothing like a real experience to make statistics sink into oblivion, no matter what they suggest. Which is to say, I carry bear spray to insure myself against the nearly 0% likelihood of ever needing it (again). The psychological benefit is deeply felt, even if not quite real.

When I started to Scuba dive years ago, the standard thing everyone seemed to carry was a big heavy knife in a scabbard. I kept mine attached to the inside of my left calf always at the ready. Of course the main purpose of the knife was to cut fishing line you may get tangled in and to pry off things on wrecks. But the image of having to fight off a shark did cross my mind, especially after I saw the movie Jaws. Although it seems silly now, the knife did provide a psychological benefit. It's also sexy to wear a weapon, let's be honest about it.


Getting back to bears, I use to Geocache and had to hike and take pictures in northern NJ woods and in NY State areas where there were black bears. I really didn;t know they were there and never thought about them. I was concerned about ticks carrying Lyme and other dangerous diseases however, They usually attacked every time and I went through considerable protection and checking to make sure I was safe. I was bit by infected ticks and did have to take antibiotics on occasion. I wonder of bear spray would have worked? :)

Jac@stafford.net
28-Aug-2015, 06:31
There are some pretty short barreled pistols that would do the job. Would not be very nice to your future ability to hear however.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHe1f7T5qlE

I shot .44 Magnums in New Mexico competitive metallic silhouette for ages, reloaded very hot but safe rounds and still find the round a manageable pussy cat. It is way over-hyped.



Kent in SD

Drew Wiley
28-Aug-2015, 08:34
The best defense would simply be a dog. They're alert to things we're not. But they're not allowed in NP's either. Mostly official Wilderness Areas outside NP's, yes. If solo hikers are more prone to attack as Garrett insinuates, it would simply be because there are not enough sets of eyes and ears around, and they were caught unawares. Interesting experiments have been done with grizzlies in zoos, where they placed a moving humanoid model fifteen foot tall in the enclosure, and a grizzly didn't hesitate to tear it to shreds, despite the size. Still, drunken deer hunters, ticks, and just driving to wilderness trailheads is statsitically far far riskier
than bear encounters. Lest that be taken as a macho statement, when a certain group of people propose reintroducing grizzles into the Sierras, I count myself in
the 99.99% of the opinion poll that says, "Don't do it". I prefer to sleep easy at night.