Ok, since no one is going to do it, I guess I will have too – just to make sure another point of view enter into the discussion. Every so often this topic comes up and it is always the same – people don’t want to carry a bear can, they never see bears, its only the idiots who get bothered by bears, etc. etc. I agree it is a hassle and I appreciate the sentiment since it seem about %70 of my trips now require bear cans.
Nevertheless, someone always needs to remind people, even the sophisticated backpackers in this forum, that the regulations on bear cans are *not* about you, or whether you might loose your lunch. They are about the bears, and only about the bears. If you haven’t seen or been bothered by raiding bears in the last few decades perhaps you should thank several decade of enforcement of the bear can rule. We don’t want to go back to the early seventies when there was an orders of magnitude more trouble, at least in the worst places like Yosemite. The fact is that research has shown that Bears are very smart, and the kind of high cal food that we carry is like bear heroin. It usually only takes one experience of getting a taste of it, and its association with humans, to turn a bear into a raider for life. Unfortunately relocating such bears is very expensive, and often is futile ending up with the bears having to be put down.
I’m guessing (but don’t know) that the reason why Ursacks are not yet acceptable is that after the bear has chewed on the bag for half an hour he may get at least a little taste of something leaking out. You will not loose your lunch, but for the bear it will not matter. It would be just as bad for the bear as feeding it. It’s not about protecting you or your food, its about protecting the bears from making *any* association between humans and food whatsoever, and all that that implies.
So IMHO these kinds of discussion usually make the mistake of dealing with the statistics in the wrong way. First, the fact that you don’t see any bears may have a lot to do with the long term education of backpackers and other visitors and the enforcement of the regulations. Second, it only has to happen once for a bear to end up a problem, and possibly dead. If carrying a 2.5 lbs can it what it takes to protect the life on a single bear, then I say do it. And even if respecting the regulation only has symbolic value but helps support the general climate of concern for the bears then I say do it. Its not about you, its about the bears.