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Bear Bagging in Winter
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Richard Nelridge
(naturephoto1) - M

Locale: Eastern Pennsylvania
Bear Bagging in Winter on 08/18/2005 22:29:37 MDT Print View

The BPL Winter Camping Gear List for Snow Caves lists nothing for Bear Bagging.

In Winter months (in areas not requiring bear canisters), since bears are in hibernation in the lower 48 states, do most people still hang bear bags to protect food and other items with odors in trees. If so, do they still prefer the PCT method?

Thanks very much for any input.


Edited by naturephoto1 on 08/19/2005 02:51:32 MDT.

Mike Storesund
(mikes) - F
Bear Bagging in Winter on 08/19/2005 10:08:30 MDT Print View

I still hang my smellables in Winter using the PCT method. There are still racoons, cats and other vermin out there that would want your bounty.

Richard Nelridge
(naturephoto1) - M

Locale: Eastern Pennsylvania
Bear Bagging in Winter on 08/19/2005 10:23:45 MDT Print View


That's what I would have thought and for the same reasons, but I am using the BPL Winter Gear Guide and was surprised that nothing was included for their list. It appears that there guides may not be as complete as I would have liked. Therefore the BPL Gear Guide weight estimates (using their examples) are a little low.


Edited by naturephoto1 on 08/19/2005 10:26:09 MDT.

Mike Storesund
(mikes) - F
Bear Bagging in Winter on 08/20/2005 09:37:25 MDT Print View

Looking through the list, it seems all food and smellables are placed in Aloksak bags, which are odorproof, so perhaps the need for hanging was not considered.
Myself, I tend to be a little more cautious so I would still hang the Aloksak bags inside my bearbag.
One thing to consider though is the outside temerature. Inside a properly built snowcave (quinzie) the temperature will remain 32-38 degrees with it being well below zero outside; if you hang food, etc. in that low temperature, you could wind up with food resembling rocks, causing more fuel consumption to thaw the items.
Perhaps burying them with 12 inches of insulating snow around would be more appropriate. Just make sure the spot is marked so you can find again should it snow more during the night.

Edited by mikes on 08/20/2005 09:39:33 MDT.

Graeme Finley
(gfinley001) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Bears hibernating on 08/20/2005 09:55:18 MDT Print View

I don't think you can rely on bears hibernating in all areas either. I took a WVA trip on Thanksgiving weekend last year and was camping in about 6 inches of snow (with further snow overnight). When I woke up the next morning the only mark on the snow was a perfect set of bear tracks wandering past my campsite.

Richard Nelridge
(naturephoto1) - M

Locale: Eastern Pennsylvania
Bear Bagging in Winter on 08/20/2005 10:12:54 MDT Print View


Rather than use a snow cave (a bit claustraphobic, concerned about cave in, and except at higher elevations in the east we may have insufficient snow for making a snow cave) I would probably use my ID eVENT MK1 Lite tent.

I will consider your suggestion about putting the food under about a foot of snow to try to keep it warmer however. As an example in the Pocono Mtns. in PA or the lower elevations in the Adirondaks in NY we may have the cold conditions but insufficient snow cover.

Thanks again.


paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Bears and hibernation on 08/20/2005 12:01:53 MDT Print View

Just in case anyone is interested in such things:

Bears do not hibernate in the sense that other mammals may hibernate. Some biologists prefer to call it sleeping. Yes, has some characteristics similar to true hibernation as exhibited by rodents and bats, but it differs in other ways. I'll list some these similarities and diffs (may not be an exhaustive list), but the most prominent/obvious is that they may wake up and leave the den from time to time. in some areas where food remains obtainable, bears may not hibernate at all. also, if they have been unable to gorge & put on weight they will hibernate less or not at all.

sleep for extended periods of time
lose weight (however, loses a greater percentage due to higher sleeping metabolism)
don't eat
don't urinate or defecate

bear's body temp. does not drop to within a few deg. of the ambient air temp
metabolic rate is comparatively high (true hibernators have very low heart and respiratory rates) - hence it loses wt & is able to give birth & care for cubs
they are somewhat aware of their surroundings & changes to it - may attack intruders (so, unlike rodents & bats, don't attempt to handle/touch them during "hibernation")
they wake up, move about in the den, and may leave the den for short periods of time
groom/lick/clean themselves
curl up to conserve body heat
give birth & nurse their young & keep them warm and groomed/clean

Edited by pj on 08/21/2005 03:38:33 MDT.

Alex Orgren
(big_load) - F
Re: Bear Bagging in Winter on 08/21/2005 18:44:13 MDT Print View

Bears definitely do NOT hibernate in parts of the Southwest where food is available.

Here in NJ, they are also shortening or skipping hibernation altogether due to the availability of human-provided food. The bear hunt two years ago was conducted well after natural-food bears were supposed to be sleeping, on the premise that harvested bears would all be problem animals; 300 were shot.