Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » "Bear Attacks" by Stephen Herrero


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(livingontheroad) - M
bears on 02/29/2012 18:51:29 MST Print View

I expect the odds are similar to the safety triangle formed by statistical accident data in industrial risk management:

i.e. for every 1 death, there are likely ~30 accidents/near misses, and ~600 unsafe acts that could have lead to an accident. Or something with similar order of magnitude

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Beae on 02/29/2012 20:55:45 MST Print View

The Nols group wasnt really a group though when the attack occured. From what i understand it was the person who crossed the creek first and had gone further up the trail got attacked while he was alone albeit close to other hikers

@david re Alberta parks

I live in Calgary and had not heard about provincial parks requiring bear spray. I know Banff began requiring bear spray in Lake Minniwanka / Stewart Canyon area and there long standing tiight groups of four requirement around lake louise.

Do you have any info on the provincial park requirement.

Bradley Danyluk
(dasbin) - MLife
Making noise on 02/29/2012 21:01:40 MST Print View

If the worst danger comes from predatory attacks from non-habituated bears, then why is it so important to make noise? Wouldn't it actually be better to hike in silence, reducing the chance of attracting a bear's attention to start stalking you?

Ben F
(tekhna) - F
Re: Making noise on 02/29/2012 22:26:21 MST Print View

I didn't read anyone as saying predatory attacks are the primary cause?

Bradley Danyluk
(dasbin) - MLife
Predatory on 02/29/2012 22:55:44 MST Print View

The very first post, referring to the book.

"Wild bears that have little contact with humans were more likely to be a problem. Especially when they were hungry early in season. They killed humans to eat them. "

Ben F
(tekhna) - F
Re: Predatory on 02/29/2012 23:02:41 MST Print View

Oh right, glossed that bit. I think the early season bit is probably more relevant than habituation.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Predatory on 02/29/2012 23:21:45 MST Print View

>""Wild bears that have little contact with humans were more likely to be a problem. Especially when they were hungry early in season. They killed humans to eat them. "

If you get into a really remote area where the critters have never seen a person and never been hunted or harassed, well, maybe you want to be in stealth mode, I'm not sure.

But of the hundreds of black and brown bears I've seen while hiking and backpacking, I don't any of them were wild to that extent. I live in an area the size of a European country with 60,000 people. Not urban by a long shot, but hardly remote like the some portions of the Northern reaches of AK, BC, and YT.

If you're on a trail, this aspect of bear behavior won't be a factor.

Bradley Danyluk
(dasbin) - MLife
Areas on 03/01/2012 00:20:09 MST Print View

I live in BC, so it's almost always a factor, aside from right around the Vancouver area :)

Our bear population outnumbers our human population pretty significantly in just about every other area.

Edited by dasbin on 03/01/2012 00:22:14 MST.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
"Bear Attacks" by Stephen Herrero on 03/01/2012 01:38:30 MST Print View

If you'd like to read more stats check out these links regarding serious human/bear encounters in BC and Alberta.

Certainly there are a lot more serious injuries than fatalities. Unfortunately, statistics are often presented without all of the important details. I found it interesting to see that in the Alberta stats, they list serious encounters by "activity" (front country or back country camping, other recreational (hunting, fishing) and occupational. When the stats say 20 people were killed by bears, we as hikers are likely to assume that most of these encounters happened to hikers or backpackers. That's certainly not the case.

http://www.macecanada.com/downloads/AB_injuries.pdf

http://records.viu.ca/www/discover/rmot/tblbear.htm

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Making noise on 03/01/2012 07:39:43 MST Print View

"If the worst danger comes from predatory attacks from non-habituated bears, then why is it so important to make noise?"

That is a good logical question based on my original post

Maybe if you consider all cases, not just fatalities, then making noise is good?

Maybe if a bear hears a strange noise from far away, it will just avoid you but if you pop up right next to it and it sees that you're a tasty morsel it would be more likely to eat you?

I think the main point is that attacks are so rare you don't need to worry about it.

And in the very unlikely event you're attacked, then defend yourself violently.

This is for black bears, maybe it's different for grizzlies?

Bradley Danyluk
(dasbin) - MLife
Black vs Grizz on 03/01/2012 11:59:16 MST Print View

My reading has led me to the belief that Black Bear attacks are more likely to be predatory than Grizzly attacks, actually. And they are more likely to be annoyed into stopping if you fight back violently.

Grizzly attacks seem to be defensive in nature (protecting cubs, a kill site, or territory) more of the time, and fighting back is pretty useless. Convince the grizz you're not a threat (playing dead) and they are more likely to stop the attack early.

These are generalizations, and there's always a chance yours might be the defensive Black Bear or hungry Grizzly.

And just like people, there are the ones that are just outright nuts and their response can't be predicted to any real degree.


I don't think I'd ever try to fight a Grizzly, though, no matter the circumstances. That's just not a winnable fight.

Edited by dasbin on 03/01/2012 12:02:00 MST.

jody carter
(finbox) - F
gun/spray on 03/02/2012 09:04:24 MST Print View

The gun/spray debate is a little misleading...

I hunt a lot and when stalking I'm VERY quiet.

If you surprise a bear he will charge and you will shoot, sometimes you win sometimes he wins. He will be very close and you just sneaked into his space, he does not have time to think. You might not have enough gun to take him down, hunting Rams with a small bullet etc.

If your out camping/hiking making noise having fun and you see a bear HE HAS BEEN STALKING YOU! and he charges and you use spray you turn from the pray to the attacker and he runs away.

The fact that the chances that a bear have a successful attack with a person with a gun is based on the person was more than likely hunting and walked VEERY close to the bear

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Hunters and Hikers - which is tastier? on 03/02/2012 09:59:55 MST Print View

>"I hunt a lot and when stalking I'm VERY quiet."

Good point, Jody. To which I'd add: Hunters travel upwind when they can, on game trails, as singles or a pair of hunters, and, as you say, quietly. Hunters also get off the trails where critters expect to find humans (and probably smell our multiple scent trails?) while hikers usually rehike the same ground again and again. By doing everything "right" to get some mooseburgers into the freezer, hunters are doing everything "wrong" to avoid bear contacts.

Therefore, I'll grant you that there is a "sampling bias" if you compare hikers with spray versus hunters with guns and their respective outcomes. I can't think of any hunters I know who carry spray, and in CA/WA, I see hikers almost entirely with spray if anything. But here in Alaska, I see a lot of hikers with guns. Maybe half (and they tend to be older and local) with an appropriate caliber. But the other half (generally younger and from "Outside") make me think, "WTF?" when they've got a .357 revolver or 9 or 10mm Glock and I wonder, "Why? You worried about muggers? Rattlesnakes in a state without any? Handgunning for Ptarmagin?"

So are you going for rams with a something flat-shooting like a 7mm Rem mag? That was the highest ranked anti-bear choice among small-caliber rifle rounds in a USFS study (but 15th overall with .458, .375, .338, and .30-06 being preferred).

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Canadian vs US black bears on 03/02/2012 13:47:39 MST Print View

Has anyone read any theories on why Canadian black bears are apparently more dangerous than U.S. black bears?

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Canadian vs US black bears on 03/02/2012 14:06:53 MST Print View

Randy:

I've wondered that as well, ever since I heard the different stats on US National Parks. In the USA, black bears basically cause property damamge with the exception of Glacier National Park (on the Canadian border) where there are serious human injuries at times.

BPing in California decades ago, I'd imagined that black bears were wimps because before 1850 grizzlies killed them and after 1850, humans hunted them, so they were never the dominant thing in their range. Whereas grizzlies, since the last ice age, were the dominant thing around except where they intersected with humans in the last 200 years (and those bears aren't around anymore). And here in Alaska, black bears are really wimpy. I've seen a bunch but only because I'm out a lot and blackies are ALWAYS heading the other way, fast, when I see them. And I see more grizzlies despite there being 10 times more black bears in this area. So blackies are wimps AND very shy.

I don't know why it is different in Canada. Are there areas in which black bears are dominant (no grizzlies)? Or somehow, they just have slightly different genetics? I've seen enough of different breeding lines of sled dogs (much less domesticated farm animals) to know that seemingly complicated behavioral traits (including aggression) can be strongly genetic. Consider a retriever's or pointer's behavior.

I'd note that as you go north, there's a shorter season for eating but you need to eat more for the longer winter. So maybe a black bear needs to be aggressive in order to put on enough fat for hibernation. In California, black bears can eat huge amounts of acorns with no risk, no competition. Where I am in Alaska, the summer is incredibly productive with berries, rodents, and dead fish, so it's easy to put on weight. Maybe in the less productive Canadian Rockies, a more aggressive bear is better suited to claiming the best patch of berries, etc.

In pigeons, aggression is a ONE GENE TRAIT which I found amazing when I read that research paper. The outcome of two pigeons facing off over a bread crumb is completely predicted by whether the birds have 0, 1, or 2 copies of the aggression gene. When the environment gets tough, the bears get tougher?

Ben F
(tekhna) - F
Re: Re: Canadian vs US black bears on 03/02/2012 15:18:36 MST Print View

It's certainly strange-perusing that last of bear deaths, there's nothing to indicate US black bears are oversized marmots. But it does seem to be the case the Canadian black bears kill many, many more relative to human population sizes.

Joseph Reeves
(Umnak)

Locale: Southeast Alaska
Re: Re: Re: Canadian vs US black bears on 03/02/2012 15:49:36 MST Print View

Black bears in southeast Alaska are often more worrisome than brown bears, and they are sometimes close in size. Maybe it's because they are all illegals and have come down the Stikine or Taku rivers from Canada. Urban black bears are seldom a concern, but they can be very intimidating when stumbling through camp along the coast.

We paddle a lot around Admiralty, Baranof and Chichagof Islands, which have a lot of brown bears and supposedly few black bears. Our ideal size group is four, and with that number we typically all carry bear spray at and around camp. We always carry a shotgun in addition to the spray on Admiralty (largest concentration of brown bears anywhere), as well as when it is just my wife and I.

I've never had to fire my shotgun in Alaska -- once had to convince a polar bear our kayak was not a seal, and shot near him to make the point, but that was on Baffin Island. Nor have any of my friends every had to spray a bear. I think numbers and noise are the key.