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Bear learns how to crack Garcia cans at Yosemite
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Joe Lynch
(rushfan) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Bear learns how to crack Garcia cans at Yosemite on 08/25/2013 12:47:19 MDT Print View

From Tom Stienstra's column in today's SF Chronicle:

'"Then, before the huge wildfire broke out near Groveland and the Highway 120 entrance to Yosemite (and closed the road), a ranger at the visitor center reported that a bear had broken into a dozen Garcia Bear Vault Canisters, the classic black ABS Polymer "bear can" that backpackers use, reported field scout Ben Toland from the scene.

"The bear was pushing them off drop-offs onto rocks," Toland said. "So far, only one bear seems to have this skill."'

Guess it's good I have a bear vault...

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Bear learns how to crack Garcia cans at Yosemite on 08/25/2013 12:50:06 MDT Print View

Awesome. Metal canisters here we come. Better top that bear.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Bear & Garcia on 08/25/2013 14:14:47 MDT Print View

I had actually heard about this two weeks ago from a student who went backpacking in Yosemite. The bear was working in the area he was camped in, and he and his buddies had already chased it off several times that night, when a lady with a rifle came into their camp. Turned out she was hired by the park to tag the bear prior to removal. Her gun used simunition or paint balls, and the bear, which had been staying in the bushes around the camp, took off as soon as she arrived. (Before she came they could see the reflection of the bear's eyes in the bushes with their flashlights.)

The lady said the bear was pushing the canisters off a cliff to break them open on the rocks. She hung around for awhile, and the student and friends went back to sleep. No lady or bear in the morning, cannister okay.

If it's just Garcia cannisters the bear has been going after, it makes me wonder how my Bearikade canister would react to a drop onto rocks?

Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F

Locale: norcal
ursack... on 08/25/2013 14:27:17 MDT Print View

I think an ursack would be JUST fine in this scenario.

First, the bear has to get it off the tree... then even if he/she throws it off a cliff, while your food will probably be messed up, the sack will probably be fine.

BTW. This same technique is used by crows to crack nuts and with snails.

Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F

Locale: norcal
link on 08/25/2013 14:27:52 MDT Print View

Bill Law
(williamlaw) - M

Locale: SF Bay Area
Re: Bear learns how to crack Garcia cans at Yosemite on 08/25/2013 17:05:32 MDT Print View

"Garcia bear vault" is kinda ambiguous.

I was in Yosemite last weekend. At the grill in tuolumne meadows enjoying a cheeseburger after our trip, we heard people at the table next to us talking about losing food to a bear. They were doing the JMT, first or second night out at Sunrise Creek. According to them, a bear opened a Garcia somehow. I don't remember the details they related exactly. The guy did say that the bear was tossing the canisters up in the air. "40 feet" was the distance cited, and it was quite the spectacle, according to the camper recounting the events.

My thought at the time was that the lid probably wasn't totally fastened (e.g., just one of the two screws), allowing the bear the get a claw under the lid. But who knows.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: ursack... on 08/25/2013 17:26:11 MDT Print View

Kevin, check your Ursack thread

We had bald eagles that lived in the front yard. Terrible neighbors. Would drop oyster and clams on the roof to break them open. Would scare the crap out of you at times. Leaving bit of animals all over the place.

We had all better hope that this is an isolated incident and the bear has not taught any others.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re Ursac on 08/25/2013 17:40:43 MDT Print View

It may not be politically correct but I think the best thing would be for the Park Service to shoot that bear ASAP. Even if we could design a "toss proof" bear can it would take a while and we'd have lots of problems in the meantime. Better to get rid of one bear so we aren't putting down more later on.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re Re Ursac on 08/25/2013 20:56:14 MDT Print View

Maybe they should shoot the campers instead. But seriously, you have have a very different idea about the nature of wild places than I do, apparently. People are visitors. If they lose their food, then sucks to be them. But short of a rogue bear threatening physical harm "management" should not include killing wildlife that belongs there to make life convenient for people who don't. Better to ban *campers* from the area until the bear goes away.

Anyway, it is obvious they are trying to relocate the bear, so that is plenty active enough.

Edited by millonas on 08/25/2013 21:00:35 MDT.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re Re Ursac on 08/25/2013 21:13:44 MDT Print View

Your argument is philosophical and very principled, but it's not logical. Bears are not endangered animals in yoseite. If one becomes a problem then the best thing is to remove it.
Humans have been living in the wilderness in North America up until very recently. We are not just visitors. We are an integral part of our wilderness and the consequences of neglecting our forests are evident. When one animal threatens another, the solution is often violence. While you are so upset about one problem bear being killed, thousands of wild animals (including bears) are hunted for recreation and food.
I understand your sentiment but it's based in the false idea that humans are completely alien to the natural world. The true natural state of our wilderness included humans killing animals in self defense. It's just a bear, put down the hamburger.

Edited by justin_baker on 08/25/2013 21:15:50 MDT.

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: Re: Re Re Ursac on 08/25/2013 21:22:56 MDT Print View

"We are not just visitors. We are an integral part of our wilderness"

I agree with this. We are animals too.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Offing bears. on 08/25/2013 21:39:30 MDT Print View

Luke: that was my thought, too. Eliminate this one bear somehow before other bears learn from it. Bears definitely learn from other bears. On salmon streams, a new behavior - diving, pouncing, etc - will spread from bear to bear and then each individual will select its best method (sometimes limited by its fishing spot which are hierarchal).

While relocating or killing this one bear isn't "fair" to that bear, when scores of other bears figure out how to defeat bear canisters, there will be many more "problem" bears requiring relocation and sometime being put down.

There are no shortage of black bears in Yosemite. There is an excess. With no natural predators anymore, they boom and bust with natural cycles of their food sources, but human food creates artificially higher bear populations.

"it's wilderness, blah, blah, blah." For the sake of the bears, I'd like to see steel storage boxes (discretely) positioned in all camping locations in problems areas of the Sierra. Hiking in Denali, grizzly bears don't care about humans - humans are never a source of food and if screw-ups happen, the NPS steps in with some serious negative reinforcement (rubber bullets, for instance). Since humans don't help or hurt bears, they are free to behave naturally and we are free to observe that behavior.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Offing bears. on 08/26/2013 00:19:12 MDT Print View

"I understand your sentiment but it's based in the false idea that humans are completely alien to the natural world. "

Totally not true, and a great example of stereotyping someone you don't know a thing about. In fact I would have no problem having a mass kill off if it was deemed necessary for a good reason. I'd pull the triggers myself. And please don't presume to patronize me about the history of man's relationship to the environment. You are not talking to a child.

What I have a problem with is killing a bear for the sake of a bunch of fat-ass campers of the type that are careless with their food and like to congregate in large noisy clusters (how is that for stereotyping) that make for an easy target for such bears - killing it as a mere *convenience* for people who believe that their interests, however trivial, always trump everything else. A very few places are left where the campers ARE supposed to be visitors and it is not their prerogative to have their way in everything. A VERY few. Our National Parks are supposed to be such isolated places. Yosemite Valley has been turned into Disneyland, do we have to extend the hand-holding through the whole park.

Yes, I have a kind of grumpy Ed Abbey/Jack Turner-esque attitude about such issues, I admit, but I feel that when humans create a problem they should own it first, before they resort to solving it on a more self-centered basis. When I hear such suggestions being offered blithely I am sometimes filled with same kind of rage Jack Tuner wrote about experiencing at seeing someone in a zoo throwing food at the face of a mountain lion. If you don't know the story, he grabbed the young man by the throat and for a few seconds wanted to kill him. This comes not from some kind of touchy-feelly tree-hugging place, but from somewhere deeper and more primal. If you can't understand that, then you are doomed to forever reducing the deeper idea of wilderness into "just another tree-hugging ideal" that can be easily dismissed. Or most ridiculously, claim it is based on "the idea that humans are completely alien to the natural world". That is not even remotely what it is about. The deeper idea is in fact *centered* on preserving something important about *man's* relationship with the environment (and *for* man, not just bears) that has a far older provenance than what you are talking about.

The logical foundation of the default "kill the bear" solution, while not a big deal in this situation, is in fact writ-large the reason we have been so devastating to the environment over the past several centuries. I say fix the people and/or campsite first then if that doesn't work move or kill the bear - but not "hey that bear stole my sandwich .. kill it!". Now if the campers who lost the food had to hunt and kill the bear themselves, using pointy sticks and/or flint-headed arrows (yes, just like that had to do before snicker's bars and peanut butter in bear cans) I'd be all for it - in fact I'd pay to see it.

There are big questions in my mind that are pertinent here. A bear can not pick up a bear can (say that 10 times fast) - this is one of the design principles. Still less a black bear. Ergo it would have had to swat it like a big furry Maradona all the way to a fairly high cliff for the score. It would then have to be able to easily get to the cracked can. I think the conditions for such behavior to be successful should be *very* limited - I want to say impossible since I don't believe a properly closed Garcia can would crack easily in such cases. Of course the idea of a bear "throwing" a can is totally preposterous. Therefore put in bear boxes in that spot - end of problem. Or did the affected campers, as suggested above, just leave the lid attached incorrectly. Seems like there may have been too many episodes for that to be the case - or did the first can have a lose lid and the rest were just attempt by the bear to reproduce the success. I find it hard to belive all of them would have neatly cracked. I think there is some missing information here somewhere.

On the bummer side of things I think the Berikade might crack easier under such conditions, and possibly the bear vault about the same. Unless the bear was so choosy that it only went for Garcia cans - but how long could that last. Its all definitely an big issue - I don't want to minimize it - since the current whole foundation of having a lot of people camping in Yosemite is the zero-tolerance rule on access to human food.

Edited by millonas on 08/26/2013 01:37:07 MDT.

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Re: Bear learns how to crack Garcia cans on 08/26/2013 04:40:52 MDT Print View

I think the Forest Service needs to make some “training” grenade bear canisters. They would be rigged with a pressure switch and loaded with capsicum. When a bear grabbed it or knocked it over it would use air pressure to blow out a cloud of pepper mist. At the same time a loud recording would start of a lady’s voice saying, “Oh look, a cute bear” over and over.

Soon every bear would be scared of canisters and tourists….

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Offing bears. on 08/26/2013 07:12:47 MDT Print View

Yosemite Valley is no longer wilderness. The correct solution is to remove all vendors from the park and blow up Hwy 120.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Offing bears. on 08/26/2013 08:01:34 MDT Print View

"The correct solution is to remove all vendors from the park and blow up Hwy 120."

No, no, no,... then all those people will go someone else

Better to just call Yosemite Valley an amusement park and contain the damage. Those cliffs prevent people from leaking out and contaminating other areas.

Edited by retiredjerry on 08/26/2013 08:12:06 MDT.

Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
People fail to protect their food in Yosemite. on 08/26/2013 09:13:07 MDT Print View

The problem is people think a bear resistant container is bear proof.

These same people let bears play with their ball of food.

Bear gets food, and refines the technique.

I'm do like the idea of eliminating wilderness travelers that stand by and watch animals play with their food. Perhaps a season ban into national parks on the first offense, and go from there.

I also like the idea of wilderness travelers filled with enough respect for the animals that instead of watching a bear toss a can around for amusement, they get up and chase the bear off. It beats having pepper bombs in the wilderness.

I am in the camp that thinks setting off pepper bombs amounts to distributing seasonings for the next bear to walk by, increasing interest in that area.

Bears are curious. The wilderness areas are filled with uneducated people. One of these is easier to change than the other.

Edited by redmonk on 08/26/2013 12:16:09 MDT.

Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"Bear learns how to crack Garcia cans at Yosemite" on 08/26/2013 10:30:04 MDT Print View

I'm in the crowd that thinks the bear should be eliminated. One- it's been proven time and again that you can move a bear and they will simply either return to where they came from or to an area that is similar to it. This bear has become habituated to humans- he will be a danger anywhere. Additionally, if this is a female bear, she will teach her offspring this trick. They will teach their offspring. Better to eliminate one bear than to have to deal with multiple bears that learn this.

I do like the idea someone presented of a "bear can bomb" filled with capsicum. The problem is that this bear has already self-rewarded enough that it's unlikely they will be deterred by one bad experience. Might be worth doing for other bears- leave some of those around, bear messes with them and they give him a face full, they learn to leave bear cans alone. Maybe.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
bear boxes on 08/26/2013 10:33:31 MDT Print View

"I'd like to see steel storage boxes (discretely) positioned in all camping locations in problems areas of the Sierra."

That has been tried with some success. Brown-painted steel footlockers can be found all over in some of the parks. The problem is that this concentrates backpackers to the close proximity of the box. Plus, it is not LNT.


Dean L
(AldoLeopold) - F

Locale: Great Lakes
Wow, First World Problems! on 08/26/2013 11:52:43 MDT Print View

Paraphrase "Lets kill the bears rather than letting them have the audacity to interfere with my camping trip".

When it comes down to that I'll just stay home. :-P