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Warding Off Bears
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john braun
(Hitman) - F

Locale: West Florida
Whistle? on 03/19/2009 21:29:38 MDT Print View

If I blow a whistle, it will be for good reason. If a bear is standing his ground and not willing to leave, I'm blowing it.

How loud are those clickers? They'll work better than an air horn?

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
warding off bears on 03/19/2009 21:32:24 MDT Print View

The clickers are like bear bells..they exist only to make bears aware of your presence. They are not loud and not meant to intimidate a bear that is standing his or her ground.

Good luck!

Joseph Jacaruso
(CaptainJac) - MLife

Locale: Southeast
Bears on 03/20/2009 06:11:34 MDT Print View


Don't worry. I hiked the mountains of Georgia, NC, Tenn, and Va for three years before I saw my first bear. I take extra time to clean-up after I eat so I really do not leave a trace.

However do I think during that time bears saw me? I'm sure of it. Signs of bear are all along the trail. My son and I have step over numerous fresh pile of scat.

In the GSNP my son actually walked up on a cub by accident. He froze and looked for mom. Then eased back away from the cub. Only because he respected the bear's space did the encounter turn out positive. On Cheola Bald my Scout Troop was visited by two bears in the middle of the night. They sniffed each tent and then continued on down the trail. Knowing how to conduct yourself around bears helps prevent a lot of trouble. Almost every attack in this area is because someone wants a picture with a bear or it involved food. If a bear wants my food, it his.

As for safety in numbers, according to Mike Clelland there are no reported bear attacks in groups of four or more. NOLS requires all participants to stay in groups of four, even when digging catholes. A little too much togetherness for me.

Again the mice are a much bigger problem on the AT. They chew into packs and run accross you while you sleep. If you respect the bears they will respect you. Mice will literally run all over you.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Bears- respect local knowledge on 03/20/2009 06:35:56 MDT Print View

From my own experience and what I've read bears (and cougars) act differently in different areas. Black bears in California can usually be treated like troublesome dogs but with food-stealing skills even Yogi and Boo-Boo would envy. In Canada they apparently are more of a personal threat but less wily when it comes to stealing food. I'm amazed if AT bears can be fooled by a single-bag food hang.

The bottom line is to find out what precautions are needed/effective in the area you plan to hike.

Personally I have never thought that pepper spray is needed in the Sierra- the statistics say that they only want food, not my children.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Warding Off Bears on 03/20/2009 07:09:13 MDT Print View

Last night's (March 19, 2009) The Story on NPR included an interview with a woman who was in the CCC (California Conservation Corps) 20 years ago or so.

One of the things she mentioned was that the staff in backcountry crews took turns sleeping (separate from the rest of the crew) with the crew's food so they would be awakened if a bear came on a raid and could chase the bear off.

Gave me a good chuckle.

Kinda places the "inconvenience" of lugging a bear canister into a different perspective, eh?

Joseph Reeves

Locale: Southeast Alaska
Say hello to the bear on 03/20/2009 10:00:56 MDT Print View

People in Southeast Alaska -- including those who live on Admiralty Island which is called Kootznoowoo, meaning Fortress of the Bear in Tlingit -- just say "hello bear" as we enter the forest or step out of our kayaks onto a beach. I've seen brown bears continue to roll rocks around the beach while an air horn is blowing, whistles don't even generate a nod. Saying hello and letting them know you are in their forest does seem to help. Bear spray and the Mossberg are good back-up. We were talking to the bears as we marveled at this tree on Admiralty
Large Tree, Southeast Alaska

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Say hello to the bear on 03/20/2009 10:21:19 MDT Print View

When we visited S.E AK in 2001 we were told that Admiralty Island housed approx 1 bear per sq. mile.

I don't obsess about bears but I think that's beyond my threshold for comfort.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Clickers on 03/20/2009 10:51:06 MDT Print View

Nathan is right, the clickers are only to make the bears aware of your presence. Yes, they are the ones used to train dogs. The theory is that they don't sound like anything else. They aren't very loud and they won't intimidate a black or brown bear. They could, however (just like yelling "Hey Bear") alert a bear to the fact that you are getting close. In Grizzly country, that is probably the most important thing (many a Grizzly attack report starts with "the hiker surprised the bear...").

To chase off a black bear, I've always just made a bunch of noise (clanging on pans, etc.). A group of people making a bunch of noise works even better. Black bears seem to be a bigger problem in car campgrounds than in remote places, so finding folks to join in the bear chasing activities should be easy (if you are at all concerned). In Grizzly country, I always carry bear spray (although I've never used it).

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Re: Say hello to the bear on 03/20/2009 11:34:23 MDT Print View

Maybe there really isn't an alternative to bear spray. One step less would be a device that makes a loud noise, and one step more would perhaps be something that physically hurt the bear (gun?). I've never hiked the AT, but up here, I just have a whistle. JimQ sums it up pretty nicely in one of his posts above.

Joseph, why are you blowing your airhorn and whistle at a bear who is rolling rocks around on the beach? Just take a picture and leave. :)

Edited by Steve_Evans on 03/20/2009 11:35:24 MDT.

Joseph Reeves

Locale: Southeast Alaska
Saying hello to the bears on 03/20/2009 13:47:12 MDT Print View

Re "
Joseph, why are you blowing your airhorn and whistle at a bear who is rolling rocks around on the beach? Just take a picture and leave. :)"

End of a long day - 30 miles -- and it was the only beach that offered a place to camp. We figured if that bear left there wouldn't be any more that evening.... The other bears didn't get the memo so we spent the night with a large fire on the beach.
Stephen's Passage , Alaska