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Warding off black bears, what has worked for you??
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Zorg Zumo
(BurnNotice) - F
Re: Re: blackies on 08/20/2013 20:10:11 MDT Print View

Oops! I guess I didn't realize you and your friends jogged with black bears in suburbia - which was the subject.

BTW, pepper spray, Zen, firearms, etc. are all security blankets. And a security blanket is zero weight and worth every non-gram.

wiiawiwb wiiawiwb
(wiiawiwb) - F
Simple steps on 08/20/2013 20:24:49 MDT Print View

Desert Dweller nailed it. Dr. Stephen Herrero is the leading authority in North America on bears and bear attacks. Deaths attributable to black bear attacks are almost always male predation. The notion of fatal danger when you "get between mama bear and her cub" is something almost exclusive to brown bear not black bear.

I disagree with Zorg that what you encountered was a predatory black bear. It veered off when you waved your hand. A predatory black bear keeps coming, it hunts you, until your aggression overwhelms its predation instinct. A hand wave is not aggression. Throwing stones, yelling, and taking the offense is aggression.

Carry bear spray, read Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance and learn about predatory black bear behavior. I'd also suggest the OP personally email Dr. Herrero. I've done so and found him to be delightfully accommodating. He is a professor emeritus at the University of Calgary.

Edited by wiiawiwb on 08/20/2013 20:57:14 MDT.

Kelly G
(KellyDT) - F
"Contract" on 08/20/2013 20:33:27 MDT Print View

"My black bear encounters have ranged from the bear running away at warp speed, to just calmly watching me walk by. Nothing in his contract that says he has to be afraid or run."

Yep, same. Had both those encounters a couple months ago, about a week apart. The baby bear was maybe 20 feet away and was gone in a flash. (Believe me, I was lookin for the mom). The adult bear was 200-300 feet off and completely aware of me. Wandered off after I got a few shots of it. When I was certain it KNEW I was there, I became concerned that it didn't scatter.

Since this last experience, I've done quite a bit of reading up on "recommended" tactics when encountering a bear. It's amazing how many differing opinions are out there. Wave arms? What are those, floppy antlers? Avert your eyes. Turn away, are you kidding, keep your eyes on that bear!

Bear spray, and don't run, do seem to be what people agree on.


Buck Nelson
(Colter) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Re: blackies on 08/20/2013 20:45:11 MDT Print View

60 people killed by [black] bears in 100+ years, many by bears in captivity, or bears conditioned to people.

Ill take my chances.

There you go. Bears are almost certainly the most over-rated danger in the outdoors. The 12 year old girl is still being talked about with relatively minor injuries. Approximately 10 people have DIED and 8,000 people have ended up in the emergency room due to bicycle accidents since her national news-making "mauling." The only reason her story made news is that a bear was involved.

It's important to think about the real risk-reward. People often suggest walking through the woods hollering. There's no way I want to sacrifice most of my wildlife sightings and my quiet backcountry experience in hopes of preventing the million-to-one (or less) chances of a bear mauling.

On the other hand, if I'm walking through thick alders along a brown bear trail next to a salmon stream, THEN I will probably be singing because the risk is orders of magnitude higher than a typical hike in black bear country.

Michelle Olsen
Re: Bears on 08/20/2013 22:08:49 MDT Print View

Thankyou so much, Desert Dweller, I will always remember your bear story, and way you told it, picturing the "look" the bear must of had on his face, lol. You told it so well, I pictured it with a frightened "oh crap!!" look on his face, remembering this about bears, lol, maybe can help keep me from panicking, and freezing. I didn't know where to go or what to do.

That's also a good thing to remember that perhaps black bears don't see so well, and also, you're right, I probably shouldn't be wearing head phones in those areas.

I've been saying "yo bear!" (I heard some one else do this on tv to alert bears, lol) and I've been singing, talking loudly, in those areas, mainly because I have been very nervous and scared to go back through that section of trail again. From what you and everyone else is saying, I'll try to find ways to make more noise, and try not to be so afraid.

I have also sat on rocks and put my feet into the creek, and didn't pay much attention to my surroundings because I was enjoying the cool water in the heat of the day. I will be more careful now, thankyou :)

Edited by Kolorado on 08/20/2013 22:24:52 MDT.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Bears on 08/20/2013 22:11:43 MDT Print View

"...a good thing to remember [is] that perhaps black bears don't see so well.."

Their vision is equivalent to ours.

One could recognize a familiar individual (a trainer) at 300 yards.

Edited by greg23 on 08/20/2013 22:15:42 MDT.

Michelle Olsen
Re: What should you do if you find yourself face-to-face with an aggressive bear? on 08/20/2013 22:19:53 MDT Print View

Very informative article, thankyou Eric ! Especially helpful where expert says:

"What would you say to people who are frightened of bears after reading about these recent attacks?

I'd give them a little of my history. I've worked on bears since 1972. I've camped in the woods with them, and have trapped and handled over 2,000 bears. I've never had a close call. The risk is certainly there, but it's pretty minimal.

The best thing you can do is educate yourself about bears and what to do in certain situations."

That makes me feel a little better, thankyou! :)

Edited by Kolorado on 08/21/2013 01:43:24 MDT.

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
RE: Warding off black bears, what has worked for you?? on 08/20/2013 22:56:29 MDT Print View

First off, Michelle, HUGE applause for you on dealing with MS and getting to the point where you can jog again. Fantastic! I couldn't be more impressed! I'm very happy for you.

"The fact is that Black bears kill more people than Grizzlies. Just the fact's ma'am.

Yes, but that is very misleading. In the lower 48 the odds of encountering a predatory black bear is unbelievably low. Of course, it can occur, but you would be FAR better off carrying your own lightning suppression system than you would worrying about black bears. I've never seen a study with a good explanation but aggressive black bears are a lot more common in Canada and Alaska. Last time I checked there were 4 deaths from black bears in the entire recorded history of Colorado. And one of those was a woman who regularly fed bears. The one you mentioned veered off which is more common here. I personally have never seen a black bear while backpacking here. But I do see them at my house more than I would like. And every time a yell sends them on their way. Very much like Bob said in his post.

Really, if I was worried about black bear encounters in Colorado, I'd carry an air horn rather than bear spray (but in grizzly country I'd carry bear spray). My neighbor chased off a sow and 2 cubs two nights ago using one. It was about 3 AM and my wife said "was that an air horn???" I said, "can you try to keep on bear prevention measures?" :)

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Warding off black bears, what has worked for you?? on 08/20/2013 23:27:13 MDT Print View

After all of the discussion about firearms, bear spray, bells, air horns, and shouting, there is yet one more method of keeping a bear away. That is the bear flare.

I saw this at a wilderness bear camp. It is a marine type hand flare. It looks like a highway emergency flare, except that it has a handle at one end, and it has a pull ring at the handle that ignites the other end. It lights instantly, and it burns for about 60 seconds. Waving that directly at the face of a bear would keep him away, for sure. Pros and cons. They are cheaper to purchase than bear spray. You can't take it aboard an airliner. It lasts for 60 seconds. You probably do not want to use it in an area that is prone to forest fires.

I have a couple of them.


Michelle Olsen
Re: Re: Warding off black bears, what has worked for you?? on 08/20/2013 23:40:41 MDT Print View

Greg, Thanks, I never thought about that. I can see how it is important to know if it is a repeat offender, or one time confused bear. But you know what, a couple weeks ago, I smelled something really awful in that area, atleast 2 or 3 different times, in that same exact location that I seen the bear. I heard bears really stink! hmmmm...and another time, I was stretching on a bench in the same area, and heard faint growls, real deep sounding, much like a bear sounds, but it was not real loud, sounded muffled kindof. i got scared and left. I have also seen scat in that same section, so putting 2 and 2 together, chances are I probably have passed him more than once!

I'm located in Colorado. It is pretty tight quarters in that section, with a steep hill on one side, and short drop off down to the river on the other. That's scarey.

There are a some trash cans along the trail, which I have seen tipped over on the main trail. However, the cans in this particular section seldom have much of anything in them.

There was no 'tag', however, I will definitely keep this in mind, should I see one.

There have been few reports of bears in trash cans around town lately.

Edited by Kolorado on 08/21/2013 16:52:04 MDT.

Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
Relevance of the "Alaskan perspective" on 08/20/2013 23:45:12 MDT Print View

Zorg said: "The subject is jogging with black bears in the lower 48. Not sure the relevance of the "Alaskan perspective"."
I gave you MY perspective. I rather think black bears are pretty similar whether they are in the L48 or Alaska or Siberia so whether you live in Maine or Alaska if you've had experience with bears it seems like this is the right thread to pipe in on. As I've had black bears in my yard and on my street as well as meeting them while hiking in the woods, I thought perhaps I had something to offer on the topic in terms of real life experience. We have had people mauled up here while jogging, too. Or bike riding. Or just hiking. Or hunting. What is it that makes you think that our perspective and experience has no relevance to the thread? Do you think our bears are different?

Michelle Olsen
Re: Re: Warding off black bears, what has worked for you?? on 08/21/2013 00:13:40 MDT Print View

Cameron, Thankyou, you are right, I didn't start using headphones until recently, for this very reason. Then I seen so many other joggers using them and they've doing this for years without a problem, so I figured I was just being paranoid.

I had a bad fear of bears when I first started jogging and a couple months ago, especially since no one else was on the trail alot of the time, every sound was bothering me, squirrels, lizards in the leaves, lol. Because of MS, walking very far was at first was very difficult. Music helped me to not only relax and enjoy it, but also helped me lengthen my stride so I could get strong enough to walk a 1/4 mile, then 1/2 mile, then a mile. One day I plugged in some upbeat tunes and I started jogging to the rhythm, I had so much fun, music is so uplifting, before I knew it, I had ran a complete mile.

Seeing the size of that bear and thanks to everyone's help here, I have made some changes.

I have been turning the music off when I'm in that area, and other areas where it's thick, and where others said the mamma bear & cubs are hangging out. I usually carry 2 water bottles with me and use them as weights to strengthen my arms, so now I've been banging them together every so often and singing, lol

thanks :)

Edited by Kolorado on 08/21/2013 02:04:26 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
spray on 08/21/2013 00:29:11 MDT Print View

honestly .... just carry spray if yr worried

it may even help again wild dogs/coyotes/cougars etc ...

there always a risk when in the outdoors ... but you are more likely to get hit by a car or mugged jogging in the city

good on you for getting out and doing it

Michelle Olsen
Re: Simple steps on 08/21/2013 00:40:07 MDT Print View

Wiiawiwb, Thankyou much, very helpful info, I will do that.

Edited by Kolorado on 08/21/2013 21:21:35 MDT.

Michelle Olsen
Re: "Contract" on 08/21/2013 00:56:46 MDT Print View

Kelly G.,

Floppy antlers, lol. Actually, when I say I moved my arm, I was merely moving my arm to take a sip of water while I pondered where to go to get away, trying to remain calm and not to panic, he was soooo huge, I couldn't believe my eyes.

I read your post on "" When you wrote "I figure it's rather accustomed to people on the trail, and that they don't leave the trail, plus the distance, so it just didn't feel threatened by me."

I'm thinking it is the same thing here, bears have been in those trail areas for years since they first opened them and population growing, quite a few joggers and bikers use these trails. There are several homes at the top of the hill/bluff that runs along side the trail. Some of which have fruit trees in their yards. Plus trail has alot of berry bushes. Hmmm...I used to think they would go higher up and only come down here occasionally. But I have seen alot of scat on the back trail where I seen this bear at.

Michelle Olsen
Re: RE: Warding off black bears, what has worked for you?? on 08/21/2013 01:41:26 MDT Print View

Thankyou so much Randy, I've been trying to move muscles, trying to stand, and find ways to build muscle since I first got my diagnosis. I have a motto "I may have MS, but MS will never have ME!" I have been bound determined to get back outdoors. Before MS, I was an avid hiker/fisherperson, and hiked alot of the trails in the Sangre de Cristo range and 14ers.

The experience has certainly taught me to always be thankful, for you don't ever know what you have, til it's gone, and to never take anything for granted that it will always be there, like the ability and freedom to stand up and walk, for example. In one months time, I ended up in a full time wheelchair.

I jog now every day, and words cannot even begin to describe how incredibly beautiful life truly is!

Everything I see is soooo beautiful, I don't want to go home, I don't want to miss a thing,and then I can't wait to get up so I can do it all over again. ha. It's all about "input", I'm drinking it all in, every scent, color, all the deer, and the feel of sun on my skin, even the the sore muscles I welcome.

Since I go to the trail every day, I knew I'd probably see a bear one day, Just never anticipated seeing such a large bear, I'm 5'8" and he came up to around my waist high. His size, combined with not having any where to go to get away, scared me, (with a steep hill on the right side of trail, and drop off down to the river on the left.) I'm still kinda slow/clumsy at climbing, lol, I didn't want to fall, I didn't know whether to try to climb up the hill on my right, go down to the river at my left, or continue up the trail, which was also uphill as well.

Michelle Olsen
Re: Relevance of the "Alaskan perspective" on 08/21/2013 01:50:10 MDT Print View

Thankyou much Dena, I certainly appreciate your insight.

Michelle Olsen
Re: "Warding off black bears, what has worked for you??" on 08/21/2013 02:03:49 MDT Print View

I believe you're right Dena, at first I couldn't figure out WHY he was running behind me, THAT freaked me out, but the more I think about it, as soon as I moved my arm, he took off up the hillside. So I'm thinking he/she flat out just didn't see me, or was maybe focused on finding more berries or running from something else that frightened him, at the same moment I just happened to be running on the trail in front of him, sounds weird, but the thought of it running behind me still scares me.

This happened on Thursday, (Aug 15) and now each day when I get to that section of the trail, I stop and have to gain courage to go past it, I still see it in my mind's eye, running after me.

"And I know this too shall pass..."


Michelle Olsen
Re: spray on 08/21/2013 02:18:30 MDT Print View

Thankyou Eric, that's a good idea. I'm looking into either the spray, or a horn, ofcourse, I don't suppose it would hurt to have both, I think I would feel better to have something, than nothing and there are wild dogs/coyotes/cougars and the like in that area as well. I had to pick up a stick and yell at some wild dogs to scare them off one day, and another time I seen something, eating at the bottom of the hill, I couldn't identify it and I just went the other way. But I do know, DOW did kill a mountain lion this Spring in that area.

I've been so focused on this bear, I hadn't worried about other animals so much, I'm going find out if using spray is allowed here on Black bears, someone mentioned it may not be.

But I'll get something :)

Michelle Olsen
Re: re Bears on 08/21/2013 02:24:24 MDT Print View

Bogs and Bergs, Thankyou. That's good advice and info about fear, that makes sense.

If there's one thing I've learned, is to never, ever give up.

I'm looking for some type of bells, however someone said, it may sound more like birds than human to a bear, I dunno.