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Bear Canisters now required in Big Bend NP
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Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Bear Canisters now required in Big Bend NP on 08/18/2014 12:02:23 MDT Print View

In case anyone is planning a trip this fall or winter and as hard as it is to believe they are now requiring Bear canisters in Big Bend with a bear population of less than 30 in nearly a million acres.

It is not published anywhere on the park website or in any materials but it is in the new 2014 Superintendents Compendium. Not only do you have to carry a bear can in the lower desert (there are food lockers in the mountain campsites) but if you cache food and/or water you it also has to be in bear canisters.

I am pretty sure that there are no places to rent a bear can near the park (or in Texas period) so you will have to go prepared.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Ursack looks okay for now at least on 08/18/2014 13:31:20 MDT Print View

Since the Ursack is approved by IGBC it should be okay for now. They said they are developing a list so they may or may not approve the Ursack in the final rules.

Major bummer since you already have to haul in water.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Bear Canisters now required in Big Bend NP on 08/18/2014 13:38:42 MDT Print View

Note that the only Ursack model approved is the 2014 version of the S29 model. You might want to take a copy of the receipt with you to prove that yours isn't an older, unapproved model.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
"Bear Canisters now required in Big Bend NP on 08/18/2014 13:41:44 MDT Print View

Dumb question, but were there any bear incidents in Big Bend? In other words, what was the catalyst for this new reg? Or is it just simply that there are a handful of bears present?

If so, wonder if other NPS units will follow suit.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: "Bear Canisters now required in Big Bend NP on 08/18/2014 14:06:35 MDT Print View

I can't say about Big Bend.

About 15 years ago, Yosemite had been having lots of bear problems. One theory was that NPS was looking for a solution, and that Garcia Machine of Visalia came up with such a solution. The other theory was that somebody at NPS had a buddy in Visalia, so the problem was created to meet the solution. We'll never know.

--B.G.--

Mike Gunderloy
(ffmike) - M
Re: "Bear Canisters now required in Big Bend NP on 08/18/2014 14:39:40 MDT Print View

Isn't Big Bend where those "rock climbing bears" were videotaped this past spring? Maybe that put someone in the OMG BEARZ headspace and they had to Do Something.

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Re: Bear Canisters now required in Big Bend NP on 08/18/2014 20:40:02 MDT Print View

Mike- you are correct that is where the canyon wall climbing bears video was from.

Paul- the only bear encounters that I know of have been in the mountains and at the roadside campsites where there are either food lockers or hard sided vehicles to store food in and maybe lazier campers have not done a good job.

This has been a slowly escalating issue. Bears were hunted out of the area pre-park and then returned after 40 plus years, coming from Mexico, in the late 1980's. They immediately installed bear proof trash cans etc. to keep the bears from becoming habituated to human food. They are mainly in the mountains above 5000' but do move through the lower foothills between the Chisos and Mexico.

We think that it is total overkill for a handful of bears but then it is a totally different environment from the Sierra and Rockies because in Big Bend both food and water are in short supply. Saguaro has kind of similar requirements but I don't know how long they have had them.

There are also additional/different tensions with LE rangers than in other parks because of all the border issues. Sometimes it seems like the LE rangers and Border Patrol have more say in how the park is run than the traditional park service staff.

I have been going to the park for over 40 years and never had any kind of critter issue with food or anything else but I also appreciate trying to keep the bears un-habituated to human food as it is a fresh start so to speak.

It also seems to be the trend that the immediate NPS or FS knee jerk reaction is bear cans like the recent thread on Maroon Bells and bears.

As Luke says, it is an additional load to an already water heavy pack in the desert and cost/hassle if you also need bear cans to cache water for longer cross country trips.

Sigh.

Edited by abhitt on 08/19/2014 05:53:16 MDT.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
REI might have canisters on 08/18/2014 20:50:08 MDT Print View

I think I remember seeing canisters at an REI in Dallas. A lot of Texas go up to Colorado so the stores stock mountain type stuff. Still I wouldn't count on it. I'm thinking I'll try to get out there over Thanksgiving and try to do a big trip before someone decides my Ursack isn't good enough.

Alex - What border issues? I thought Big Bend was isolated enough to miss most of the craziness.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Bear Canisters now required in Big Bend NP on 08/18/2014 22:24:05 MDT Print View

"It also seems to be the trend that the immediate NPS or FS knee jerk reaction is bear cans like the recent thread on Maroon Bells and bears."

Thanks for your thoughts. Your sentence above was what I was afraid of...

OMG BEARS!

A lot easier to say "TAKE A CANISTER" and be done with it I suppose.

Sigh is right. :(

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Re: REI might have canisters on 08/19/2014 05:49:28 MDT Print View

Austin Kayak sells them as well, but I don't think anyone rents them but maybe REI will.

Big Bend is very safe and very isolated but that didn't stop them from posting a lot of Border Patrol there and the NPS hiring a lot of additional Law Enforcement (LE) rangers who really don't have much to do but Homeland Security money is paying for them. There are something like 35 LE rangers for a monthly visitation average of 25,000. Increasing reports of overzealous and bored LE rangers in traffic stops and such. They are also the ones who are responsible for making sure you have a bear canister or not or at least enforcing the rules. It is those kinds of tensions I was referring to.

They have been trying to enforce bear can rules over the last several years even though it was not a written rule anywhere, now they have at least made it official but again only found in the Superintendents Compendium, published no where on their website or other materials.

They probably will not approve the Ursack in their final list because they do not want anything tied to plants (bear hangs and hammocks are not allowed)