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Warding off black bears, what has worked for you??
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Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
tents and tarps on 08/22/2013 18:45:58 MDT Print View

I use a tent because I live in the mosquito capital of the world, or at least it seems that way. Generally as I'm laying there waiting to fall asleep, I marvel at the thousand mosquitoes being held at bay on the other side of my tent inner, looking at me with their bloodthirsty little eyes. That's what stops me from switching to a tarp, except for winter. I completely agree a tarp would be better for dealing with bears, not to mention the wide open views.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Mosquitoes? on 08/22/2013 18:56:53 MDT Print View

Come on Dena, that's just a myth that AK has that many bugs. :) Why when I was up there a few years ago, I hardly saw any in early August in Wrangell/St Elias NP. I've had more issues at a few choice places in the Sierra and extreme southern Cascades here in Kalifornia. :)
Thread drift.

Zorg Zumo
(BurnNotice) - F
Re: Carry in Alaska on 08/22/2013 19:09:58 MDT Print View

Good for you Dena! I would much rather encounter a lady with a handgun than a lady with a Rottweiler - the handgun won't decide by itself to attack me!

Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
Mosquitoes on 08/22/2013 21:53:09 MDT Print View


This was a weird year. May and June were probably the buggiest I've ever seen up here. But it was so hot, and so dry, that by July they just went away. Now I hardly ever see a mosquito. I'm half tempted to do this weekend's campout with the fast-pitch setup on my tent and leave the inner at home.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Mosquitoes on 08/23/2013 06:47:10 MDT Print View

Dena,I'm headed down towards the Mammoth Lakes area in the eastern Sierra after working half a day today. Since I work out of town, I had to pack stuff up last Sunday. Mismatched the poles for a couple of my shelters, so I may be sleeping on my ground cloth unless one of the other four people who are coming bring a tarp for me. It would be fine, but it does get cool down there.

Michelle Olsen
Air horns can sometimes PROVOKE bears to attack - what??!! on 08/24/2013 01:09:56 MDT Print View

I stumbled upon a post that using an air horn provoked a bear, and rather than repel or scare the bear away, apparently for some users, it actually did quite the opposite.

Sooooo...I did some research on using air horns and apparently, air horns has been known to sometimes startle a bear and provoke an attack.

Found an article here

Below is a quote:
"Noises that cannot be reproduced in the wild, (e.g. a metallic noise), will let a bear know that you are approaching and give them advanced notice to move out of the area. However, noisemakers that startle a bear, such as an air horn, can provoke an attack. If you release an air horn too close to a bear hiding in the bush and it startles them, they may charge. Bells may work well in remote areas where bears have not had a lot of contact with humans, but in areas where they have become accustomed to humans, a human food habituated bear may approach a person wearing bells. Bells do not make enough noise to warn a bear of your approach unless you are wearing several bells. A can partially filled with rocks makes a loud clattering noise and is very effective in letting bears know of your presence before they pick up your scent."
"In some cases, noise deterrents do not work either because the bear has habituated to human noise or because it has no natural fear of the noise. For example, a habituated bear is very unlikely to respond to a vehicle siren if officers remain in the vehicle. Unlike human dominance techniques which speak the language of the bear, a bear may have to be taught that noise deterrents are followed by an unpleasant or negative situation. However, once a bear makes the association, an officer may only have to cock his shotgun to make the bear leave"

And this one: Bear actually ran TOWARDS the sound of an air horn, not away, twice!
My concern is that the area where I jog, has some very thick, dense areas. Also, the bears are used to humans coming down the trail every day, which seems to have both pros and cons. Combined with the fact that I plan on continuing my daily jogs during the time while the bears are bulking up into the Winter months, on through hibernation into Spring when the bears wake up. (Weather permitting ofcourse, since we have many days of sunshine, or 40 - 50 degrees during the day, and even after snowing, if it's small amount, it usually melts right away)

So I guess I will just talk loudly, sing, and fill a can partially full of rocks and make noise up the trail in those areas and around blind corners, instead of air horn. :)

Edited by Kolorado on 08/24/2013 08:56:08 MDT.

Bogs and Bergs
(Islandized) - F

Locale: Newfoundland
air horns on 08/24/2013 04:43:16 MDT Print View

Makes sense to me. Somebody let off an air horn in my ear, I might smack them too. And I've never smacked anybody in my life.

Interesting the mention of a 'metallic' noise. I didn't mention this in my earlier post, because I kind of figured your bears were too human-habituated for it to be good advice. But out here in the wild, we are taught as children that the most frightening sound for an animal is the clanging of metal, because it's a completely unnatural sound, and it reverberates and carries over a long distance.

So even though it isn't ultralight, I carry a steel water bottle. My tiny steel-cased camera is on a shoulder strap. And that's my bear banger.

Haven't used it on a bear (except to announce myself when I see bear sign, is this why I rarely see bears?), but I have encouraged large moose to walk a different path. And startled squirrels out of my lunch.

Edit to add: there are two black bear stories in Atlantic Canada's news this morning. In Nova Scotia, two women found themselves very near a bear. They dropped their bags, the bear went for the bags. Then they ran, and the bear followed, until they happened across a cabin and went inside. The bear waited outside, they called for help.

In the second, a man in Gros Morne National Park says he almost walked into the rump of a feeding bear (berry season). He quietly backed away and didn't think the bear even knew he was there. A Park Warden later told him that oh yes, the bear knew, he just didn't care.

This had me thinking about what happens when people run from a bear. We always hear that it excites the prey instinct, and probably so. But maybe it also excites the PLAY instinct? The bear that followed the women to the cabin could have had them at any time, but didn't. Think about what you do when you want to catch a running dog. You get the dog's attention and run AWAY from it. Because then the dog will chase you. It's a game.

Edited by Islandized on 08/24/2013 05:15:09 MDT.

Michelle Olsen
Re: air horns on 08/24/2013 09:24:58 MDT Print View

Bogs and Bergs,

Interesting, you mean bears might like to "play with their food" like cats do, OMG, that's enlightening. lol. Although I can see how it might trigger play instict,

So even after they dropped 'food', the bear actually followed "THEM", and then "politely" waited for them outside, when he/she could of easily knocked them down as they ran or ripped open the front door and entered the cabin, hmmm...

And as far as the guy almost walking into the rump of a bear feeding on berries, the trails I jog on are loaded with berry bushes, which has been my main fear. What shall I do if I accidentally run right up to one feeding along the trail, However, I like the idea of carrying metal. Either banging on it or shaking partially filled can of rocks before entering those areas to begin with, should help, I hope.

Some of those bushes are so large and so thick, I can't see through them and even though I always make noise but I still think, "Gee, what if a bear is too busy enjoying his favorite berries to care about my 'noises' and so then I round the bush and there he is!! AHHHH

I just learned something last night I didn't realize, I've been wearing a perfume spray, in case my deodorant is failing, not to offend anyone passing me one the trail, lol.

I feel like an idiot for even having to say this, but the fragrance is called "Cherry Blossom".... "HELLLO!!!" Maybe THAT may be what brought that bear out to run up the trail behind me, Makes me think, how could I be so stupid!

Edited by Kolorado on 08/24/2013 09:37:11 MDT.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: Re: here's the best how to survive a bear attack on 08/24/2013 10:32:55 MDT Print View


That was a great video. Their calmness provides a good model for me if I ever encounter a grizzly.

I couldn't help wonder if they might have been carrying a gun just in case the grizzly didn't understand English. . "Speak softly and carry a big stick".

While watching the video I could almost taste my urge to run for my life.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Re: here's the best how to survive a bear attack on 08/24/2013 12:32:38 MDT Print View


Yes, I'll try to channel Erin's calmness the next time I'm facing down a grizzly.

No, Hig and Erin go UL to SUL and carry spray but no gun (6-7 pounds you can't eat, wear, or cook with). They stayed with us on their 800-mile, human-powered, with-two-toddlers trip this summer. The west side of Cook Inlet is pretty bear-infested, but again, they brought spray and no gun.

Actually - the biggest non-UL gear they had was the 2-year Lituya: 24 pounds and she isn't self-propelled, has to be carried, you can't eat or wear her, etc.

John Coyle

Locale: NorCal
Warding off black bears, what has worked for you on 08/25/2013 22:48:57 MDT Print View

My face has worked for me because every time I see a black bear it runs the other way, sometimes resorting to ridiculous means such as crashing down steep poison oak infested embankments or running up hill through scree and talus. Not exactly a confidence builder for my self image. I mean I know I don't look like Brad Pitt, but do they have to run away in that hysterical terrified manner every time?

My girlfriend and I saw a Grizzly about 1/2 mile away in Yellowstone several years ago, but a Ranger arrived and the Grizzly took one look at him and ran the other way at about 35 mph. It was frightening to see how fast something that big could run. Luckily it ran the other way, although we were both sporting bear spray-so was the ranger.

This spring here in NorCal near Sacramento a man was tired, it was late, so he pulled over his car, threw out his sleeping bag, no tent, and went to sleep on the ground in the open. He woke up several hours later with a mountain lion paw on his face. A fight ensued, and I imagine it is hard to fight a mountain lion from inside a mummy sleeping bag, but somehow the man put up a good fight, got scratched a quite a bit and drove himself to the hospital. His sleeping bag was a total loss with about a dozen 3 ft. scratches running up and down it's length. There was a picture of it in the Sacramento Bee.

In another mountain lion incident this spring a hiker on the Stevens Trail near Colfax in Northern California reported a mountain lion circling him on the trail. He called the Highway Patrol on his cell phone and the CHP helicopter flew around above him and scared off the lion. Later a game Warden hiked down the trail, turned around and the mountain lion was in a predatory crouch about ready to jump on him, so he shot and killed it. Unfortunate, but that mountain lion had some issues.

Some times I think it is still the Wild West out here for a number of reasons, some of them having to do with wildlife. Both mountain lion incidents were reported in the Sacramento Bee if people want to search for the articles.

Michelle Olsen
Lions, and Coyotes and Bears, oh my!.... on 08/26/2013 10:44:30 MDT Print View

There has been a few mountain lions over the years in the area where I jog, and I know DOW killed one just this past spring. it was killing peoples pets and children couldn't safely play outside.

A fellow jogger told me she seen a cougar close to the trail last year, that would not leave and was lying down, she called DOW and they shot it.
Same with coyotes, who were killing pets in the area. Several accounts of them chasing children.

Coyotes have attacked hikers & bikers, I know there was a lady this year who was bitten in the calf. She attempted to run away. Which must of excited the coyotes predatory instinct to catch his prey. Gee.

Over the years, there seem to more and more of an issue as cities grow larger into lion/coyote/bear territories.

I had an experience in my teens w/ a pack of hungry coyotes that encircled our mobile home and would not leave. I was at my cousins house and their parents went to town and left us alone. (They lived on a farm outside of town). As soon as they left,my cousin grabbed his pellet gun, and said "here we go!, this happens every time my parents leave, but my dad doesn't believe me".

Even while my cousin was shooting a pellet gun at them out the back door, the coyotes continued to move in closer and closer! He kept trying to scare them away w/his pellet gun. They were digging along the bottom of the mobile home, trying to get in when his dad (my uncle) finally came home, grabbed his rifle and began shooting them, After he shot 2 of them, the rest trotted off. They didn't run per se, just trotted away, looking back at us now and then. (He finally believed he was telling the truth then, lol)

Another time I stayed there, we slept in a camper parked on their property about 500 ft. down the road from their home. We were making cookies, but needed one more ingredient from the house. It was dark out, full moon and as we were walking up the road to the house, when we were chased by a coyote, I ran as hard & fast as my little legs would go, lost my show, lol.

Luckily it was far enough away when it began chasing us, we had time to reach the house. As we got almost to the house, we could hear it running, (that was scarey!)
We hid in the house for awhile, then took the pellet gun with us on the way back, but didn't see him any where.

I lost 2 cats last summer to coyotes, and we hear them howling at night.
After my experience with the bear, I hadn't given any other animal that much thought, lol, but that's to all your responses, now I am much more aware and make noise up and down the trail in thick areas and blind corners.

Still scared when I go through the area I seen that big bear, I sing, make noise and yell hey bear, hey bear. I think is he/she would have been smaller, it wouldn't have bothered me so badly, but this guy was HUGE, I'm 5'5" and he cam up to my waist.

I'm still too scared to go any further up that trail any more, I've been turning around right there and going back the other way every day ever since.

I guess the lessen is, we should always be aware of our surroundings and respect their "house" as we go running/jogging/biking/hiking through the middle of it, lol

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: Warding off black bears, what has worked for you on 08/26/2013 12:05:26 MDT Print View

Total thread hijack: John, were you hiking out of Pine Creek a little over a week ago? You look familiar...

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Don't worry on 08/26/2013 18:49:09 MDT Print View

Michelle I think you're worrying yourself too much over this. Here's my theory. Black bears are not mini-grizzlies. It is almost impossible to provoke a black bear into attacking you, they just aren't interested. You aren't going to help matters by wearing bear bells or yelling "hey bear."

We tend to worry about things we think we control and fatalistically accept other risks that are pretty much beyond our control. I don't know anyone who stays up at night worrying about a heart attack for example.

The most likely scenario for a black bear our mountain lion attack is a predatory animal. Honestly I think its best to think of such an event is sort of like a heart attack. Its so impossible to predict and we have little control over it.

There really isn't much you can do about a predatory attack except have a something ready in case it happens. I'd get some spray or whatever "deterrent" is legal and you are comfortable with. After that you've done the best you can do, just enjoy the woods.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Animals near civilization vs wilderness on 08/26/2013 21:25:21 MDT Print View

Incidents are clearly more prevalent in areas near civilization vs wilderness. Two main reasons being more people around, so simply statistics. The second reason, is the habituation to Humans and the goodies they often carry. I would tend to be far more concerned with an animal encounter on a local trail run than on a backpacking trip in more remote wilderness.

just Justin Whitson
Re: tents and tarps on 08/26/2013 22:11:01 MDT Print View

Dena wrote, "I use a tent because I live in the mosquito capital of the world, or at least it seems that way."

Holy Moly, you aren't kidding! I was up in AK this early Summer, and couldn't believe the mosquitoes. At one point we couch surfed at a small cabin outside of Fairbanks proper that someone was squatting in and as soon as we got out the car it was like black clouds that followed us.

I'm really grateful for the head and pant net clothing i brought and the long sleeves. The locals said it was particularly bad this year though, just our luck :P

Michelle Olsen
Re: Don't worry on 08/26/2013 22:17:56 MDT Print View



Edited by Kolorado on 08/27/2013 07:40:09 MDT.